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Sanchez benched for Twitter comments

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Pirates prospect Tony Sanchez, the starting catcher at Double-A Altoona, was benched -- but not suspended — for three games for making inappropriate comments on Twitter, a social networking website, a team source confirmed Thursday.

Sanchez sat out Altoona's past three games, including a doubleheader yesterday against Akron.

The Eastern League and Major League Baseball have been in discussions about Sanchez, but neither is expected to impose further punishment. A final decision is expected today.

"We have not yet imposed a penalty," Eastern League president Joe McEacharn said. "The matter is under review, in consultation with the commissioner's office in New York. It's a jurisdictional issue. There was only one crime here, so we want to make sure there is only one penalty issued."

McEacharn has spoken with Pirates officials about the situation. He declined to say whether a team-issued suspension would affect a penalty levied on Sanchez by MLB or the Eastern League.

Sanchez, 22, was a first-round draft pick in 2009 and is in his first season with Altoona. He is the top-rated non-pitcher in the Pirates' minor league system.

Sanchez irked EL officials with a tweet that implied Altoona had lost a recent game against Harrisburg because of a blown call by an umpire. Sanchez on Monday issued an "Only in Altoona" tweet that included a photo of a woman in a thong and a child throwing firecrackers at a gas station.

Sanchez closed his Twitter account Tuesday. Pirates president Frank Coonelly said the team did not force Sanchez to shutter the account, though they did, at the urging of MLB, twice speak to him about proper professional behavior.

Sanchez called ending his Twitter account "a personal decision."

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