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Pirates close to deal with lefty Sanchez

| Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 9:54 p.m.

The Pirates have made progress toward signing free-agent left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who if healthy will head to spring training Monday to vie for a roster spot. Monday night, an industry source confirmed the club and Sanchez are close to an agreement on a minor league deal.

A deal with Sanchez might signal an end to talks with free-agent lefty Francisco Liriano. The Pirates tried to sign Liriano in December, but backed away after he broke his upper right arm. Liriano is not expected to be ready to pitch by Opening Day.

Sanchez, 30, last season went a combined 1-9 with an 8.07 ERA in 15 starts with the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies. He went on the 15-day disabled list in May due to biceps tendinitis, then went on the 60-day DL with the same injury in August. In 2011, Sanchez missed time with a sprained left ankle.

Before last season, the San Francisco Giants traded Sanchez to Kansas City for outfielder Melky Cabrera. Sanchez put up a 7.76 ERA in 12 starts before the Royals designated him for assignment. Sanchez then was dealt to the Rockies, for whom he was winless with a 9.53 ERA in three starts.

Sanchez made $5.6 million last season. He has not drawn heavy interest this offseason on the free-agent market due to his injury problems and declining performance.

Sanchez was a 13-game winner in 2010 with the Giants. He averaged 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings that season and led the league in fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.6).

The Pirates eyed Sanchez in 2009, when they were shopping second baseman Freddy Sanchez (no relation). Jonanthan Sanchez's stock skyrocketed when he threw a no-hitter on July 10, 2009, amassing 11 strikeouts in an 8-0 victory against the San Diego Padres.

The Pirates eventually dealt Freddy Sanchez to San Francisco for prospect Tim Alderson, who last season pitched for Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.

Pirates pitchers and catchers report Monday to Bradenton, Fla., and will have their first spring training workout the following day.

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