Top prospect stays happy-go-lucky
BRADENTON, Fla. — Sometimes you get the feeling there's nothing that could get Pirates catching prospect Tony Sanchez down.
Having his jaw wired shut for a month this past June and missing the rest of the season after getting hit in the face by a pitch with Single-A Bradenton?
"At least I know I can take a mean punch to the face and get back up," joked Sanchez, who walked off the field unassisted with his jaw fractured in two places after the beaning.
Being among the first four players cut from the Pirates' big league camp Saturday?
"At least they gave us our meal money check before I got cut," he said, laughing.
It seems for Sanchez, the Pirates' first-round pick in 2009, there's always an "at least." Or in translation, "it could always be worse." Even in leaving the comfort of McKechnie Field to return to carrying his own bags and cleaning his own cleats at Pirate City, Sanchez said he looked forward to getting in some games and down to the business of preparing for a big season.
"Starting in (Double-A) Altoona is right where I would love to be," Sanchez said. "Go out, hit well, catch well and get moved up to (Triple-A) Indianapolis halfway through the year. Then, hopefully, get a September call-up (to the Pirates). If the year plays out like that, I'll be satisfied."
Last year, Sanchez was on the fast track when his season ended prematurely. He was batting .314 with 17 doubles, four homers and 35 RBI in 59 games. He was named a 2010 Florida State League midseason All-Star and named to the 2010 MLB Futures Game, a game he didn't play because of the injury.
The long layoff showed when he finally returned to play in the Arizona Fall League. While getting back his defensive feel wasn't too problematic, finding his timing at the plate was another story.
"If you take a week off of hitting, or even a day, it's going to feel a little off," said Sanchez, a 22-year-old Miami native. "Take three or four months off, then get thrown into the Arizona Fall League and try to have success out there, and it's not easy. I learned that real quick."
To Sanchez, every pitch seemed to be traveling 112 miles per hour. Sliders were impossible to hit. And then, there was stepping into the batter's box and not think about the ball connecting with his jawbone instead of the bat.
"There were three or four at-bats where I had no chance of putting the ball in play because every time (the pitcher threw inside) I'd pull back on my heels," said Sanchez, who batted just .206 in 18 games with Mesa, including a .163 average against right-handers. "Literally, I was like, 'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.' But my hitting is fine now. There are no residual effects."
Sanchez got two at-bats during his time in the big league camp this spring and hit a book-rule double to left off Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Dan Meyer.
Now, manager Clint Hurdle said, it's all about getting Sanchez reps behind the plate.
"The game calling can be more creative and challenging, but also the ability to receive the ball becomes less dynamic because pitchers come more around the plate," Hurdle said. "But it's all about him getting involved catching the games, catching the variety of pitchers."
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.
- Starkey: Burnett writing incredible final chapter
- Alvarez’s walk-off single lifts Pirates over Padres
- Pirates notebook: Four players selected for All-Star Game
- Torn thumb ligament puts Pirates’ Harrison on 15-day disabled list
- Gameday: Pirates vs San Diego Padres, July 7, 2015
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Padres, July 6, 2015
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
- Pirates notebook: Red Sox, Phillies pitchers could be on Pirates’ radar