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Pirates' backup catcher OK after flipping into Padres' dugout in win

| Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 7:18 p.m.
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Tony Sanchez of the Pirates catches a foul ball and tumbles over the railing in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres during the game on Sept. 19, 2013 at PNC Park.
Tony Sanchez of the Pirates catches a foul ball and tumbles over the railing in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres during the game Sept. 19, 2013 at PNC Park.
Getty Images
Tony Sanchez of the Pirates catches a foul ball and tumbles over the railing in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres during the game on Sept. 19, 2013 at PNC Park.
Getty Images
Justin Morneau attempts to reach for Pirates teammate Tony Sanchez, who tumbles over the railing after catching a foul ball in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres during the game on Sept. 19, 2013 at PNC Park.
Getty Images
The Pirates' Tony Sanchez looks on after falling over the railing while catching a foul ball in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres during the game on Sept. 19, 2013 at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pirates trainer Todd Tomczyk and manager Clint Hurdle check on catcher Tony Sanchez after he fell into the Padres' dugout while making a catch in the eighth inning Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, at PNC Park.

Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez didn't intend to flip over the railing and tumble headfirst into the Padres' dugout Thursday, but he wanted to get his pitcher an easy out.

The Pirates were ahead comfortably, 9-1, in the eighth inning, but Jason Grilli is still working his way back from an injury, and Sanchez wanted him to have a good outing. Sanchez chased Chris Denorfia's popup toward the Padres' dugout, reached the railing, put his glove out, caught the ball, and over he went.

“The main priority after I started going over was to stick my other hand in the glove and hold on to the ball,” he said.

“You can't do all that for nothing. You can't go over and sacrifice your body and have the ball pop out. That'd be embarrassing.”

Sanchez did hold on to the ball and got the first out of the inning, but it certainly wasn't easy.

He hit his head on the way down, and when Padres catcher Nick Hundley came to pick him up, Sanchez said all he could think was, “Who the heck are you?” despite knowing who Hundley is.

“I hit the ground and I'm like, ‘(Darn), that really hurt,' and I'm looking him in the eyes and he's like, ‘Are you OK?' ” Sanchez said. “I didn't know what was going on. That's as close as I've come to being dazed ever.”

After Sanchez was checked over by a trainer and manager Clint Hurdle, he stayed in the game.

“You might not ever see a catcher make a better play in the dugout than the one you saw (Thursday),” Hurdle said. “You might not ever see a better play than the one Sanchez made (Thursday).”

None of the Padres made a move toward catching Sanchez, but he doesn't blame anyone for letting him take the fall.

“They don't want to interfere with the play,” said Sanchez, who proclaimed himself to be fine after the game.

“They want to let me make the play, and everything's happening so fast no one's going to have the time to think, ‘Maybe I should catch this guy if he goes over.' And I don't blame them for not catching me.

“It's not their fault. I'm the one who went the extra mile. It's not like I'm a 100-pound woman. I'm a 230-pound catcher with gear and metal cleats and mass flying everywhere, and who's going to get in the way of that? I wouldn't try to catch anybody.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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