Pirates notebook: Prospect Sanchez makes 1st start at first base with Indy
MILWAUKEE — Pirates prospect Tony Sanchez made his first professional start at a position other than catcher or designated hitter Friday, starting at first base for Triple-A Indianapolis.
Sanchez was regarded as a strong defensive catcher when he was drafted fourth overall out of Boston College in 2009. He was projected to be a future starting catcher for the Pirates, but Sanchez's throwing issues persist. He's thrown out only 11 percent of basestealers this season, with 55 of 62 advancing successfully against him.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Sanchez has been working out for several weeks at first base to increase his versatility.
“Our intent was to add playing-time options for Tony — and additional opportunity to help a (major league) club,” Huntington wrote in a text, “and get Triple-A exposure for (catcher) Elias Diaz.”
For his minor league career, Sanchez has thrown out 22 percent of base-stealers, raising the question of his ability to stay at the position.
Sanchez has played 426 minor league games: 422 at catcher, three at designated hitter and now one at first base. Sanchez is hitting .228 with 10 home runs in 72 games for Indianapolis.
The Pirates potentially are looking at a significant void at catcher this offseason as starting catcher Russell Martin is a free agent and figures to earn a lucrative, multiyear contract. The Pirates do not have a clear starting-caliber catcher in the upper levels of their farm system.
Polanco held out again
Gregory Polanco was held out of the starting lineup for a third straight game Friday at Milwaukee.
After a torrid start to the season at Triple-A and impressive opening weeks with the Pirates, Polanco has struggled. He has one hit in his last eight games started and is batting .227 in the second half.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle sees a young player whose swing has become long.
“There's been a little more movement than necessary with his hands,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes you don't know if it's fatigue or anxiety. … They are pitching him up a lot more, it's no secret. He's doing a lot more up chasing than when he first got here. We revisited the swing when he first got here. He was quick to the ball, long through it … almost made it look effortless. Sometimes with (fatigue) you try to create strength or bat speed with body or hands, and usually what that does is (decelerate) the bat.”
The red-hot Travis Snider earned a third straight start in right field.
“The good side of it is when we've had some time to settle (Polanco) down a little bit, when he had gotten back plugged in, he's been very fresh and usually shows a lot of improvement,” Hurdle said.
Cole passes another test
Gerrit Cole passed his first test in his return to the major league mound Wednesday when he delivered a quality start against the Atlanta Braves and held his velocity deep into the game — his 93rd pitch of the night hitting 98 mph.
In recovering from lat and shoulder discomfort, he also has passed his second test: recovery.
“Very good, very good physically,” Hurdle said of Cole's status Friday. “His fastball velocity was as good and solid as we've seen from him in a long time.”
Right is the new left
Right-handed hitting Gaby Sanchez started at first base against right-handed Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo on Friday over left-handed options Ike Davis and Pedro Alvarez.
Hurdle explained that Gallardo's go-to pitch has become his changeup, which is most effective against left-handed batters. Gallardo has reverse platoon splits as lefties are hitting .217 against him this season and righties are hitting .270.
Rehabbing pitcher Stolmy Pimentel threw one inning Thursday with Double-A Altoona and is scheduled to throw back-to-back outings Monday and Tuesday with Altoona … Alvarez continued to take infield work at third base Friday.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Two wild-card format hurting Pirates in short term
- No certainty for Pirates’ call-up veterans
- Gameday: Pirates at Brewers, Sept. 1, 2015
- Rossi: Continuing legend of Pirate Ray
- Pirates notebook: Burnett encouraged by extended simulated game
- Biertempfel: Pittsburgh native faced quick learning curve as Marlins GM
- Starting 9: Pirates place renewed emphasis on nabbing base-stealers
- Pirates turn nifty double play in 9th, edge Marlins
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle mulling rotation options
- Patience serves as virtue amid prospect Glasnow’s quest for majors
- Pirates show depth in earning victory over Rockies; Polanco has big night