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Pirates notebook: Sanchez recalled from Triple-A, will join Pirates in L.A.

| Friday, June 21, 2013, 4:12 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez catches during a spring training game in Fort Myers, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez watches pitchers during spring training last year at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — This time, catcher Tony Sanchez hopes to stay a while with the Pirates.

The Pirates called up Sanchez from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioned pitcher Brandon Cumpton on Friday.

Sanchez was brought up to be on the “taxi squad” when Russell Martin had a sore neck May 11 during a series in New York against the Mets. But Martin never went on the disabled list, so Sanchez, 25, wasn't activated by the Pirates.

“That motivated me,” Sanchez said.

“You get so hyped up for your first call-up, and it doesn't happen the way you draw it out. But look where I am. I'm right back where I should be.”

Sanchez was brought up to be the designated hitter against left-handed starting pitchers Saturday and Tuesday.

However, the Los Angeles Angels scratched left-hander Jason Vargas, who was supposed to start Saturday, and put him on the DL due to a blood clot. Right-hander Billy Bucknor will pitch instead.

The Pirates won't face a left-handed starter until Tuesday, when Joe Saunders pitches for Seattle.

Still, having a third catcher on the roster would allow Hurdle to put Martin and Michael McKenry in the lineup at the same time — Martin also can play third base and right field — and have Sanchez on the bench as a backup.

“We were looking for a way to firm up our lineup against left-handers,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

“Tony's swung the bat very well this year, and he's had a very productive last two weeks.”

A first-round pick in 2009, Sanchez was batting .306 with nine homers and 35 RBI in 55 games with Indy.

His .570 slugging percentage ranks fourth in the International League, and he's tied for seventh with 20 doubles.

“I did whatever it took to have success, and when I didn't have success, I didn't let it bother me,” Sanchez said. “I knew where I wanted to be.”

Sanchez also made 12 errors, the second most on the team behind third baseman Jared Goedert (14).

“Throwing, (Sanchez has) had some challenges,” general manager Neal Huntington said.

“His errors are high because he's working through his throwing. He's trying to pick (off) guys at first, pick (off) guys at third. He's been aggressive.”

Starter TBA

The Pirates have not named their starter for Wednesday's game against the Mariners, but it will be either Gerrit Cole or Jeanmar Gomez.

Hurdle said Gomez (strained shoulder) could come off the DL as soon as Saturday, if necessary.

“We'd like, in a perfect world, to hold (Gomez) back until Sunday, but he might be needed (Saturday),” Hurdle said. “If we need him (Saturday), we'd use him out of the bullpen, and Cole would be in line to make that start (Wednesday).”

Right-hander Felix Hernandez will pitch Wednesday for the Mariners. It will be the second time in four interleague games this season the Pirates will have faced “King Felix.”

Draft picks sign

The Pirates signed right-handers Neil Kozikowski (eighth round) and Henry Hirsch (22nd round) and assigned them to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates.

That gives the team 18 players signed from this year's draft.

Around the horn

On Friday, outfielder Jose Tabata (strained left oblique) began a rehab assignment with Indy. ... Infielder Josh Wilson, a Mt. Lebanon native, was designated for assignment by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Wilson played for Indianapolis in 2008.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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