Reigning National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez, found a second opinion Monday that only confirmed the Pittsburgh Pirates' evaluation of a sprained right knee ligament.
The talented second baseman was hurt turning a double play on March 6th and is still unable to run the bases or make sharp cuts in the field without pain. An MRI taken revealed nothing new, which is great news for the Pirates. He is to resume his conditioning program on Tuesday and unless he sees significant improvement in the next week or so, he will start the season on the 15-day disabled list.
Losing Sanchez could be a setback for the club, if only for the first week of the season, as the Pirates are coming off consecutive 95-loss seasons. He became one of the NL's top hitters last season and led the league with a .344 average with 53 doubles - the highest average by a Pirate since hit .345 in 1969.
If Sanchez isn't ready to play Monday against the Houston Astros, Jose Castillo will temporarily replace him at second. Castillo played there the last three seasons, but was moved to third base so Sanchez and shortstop Jack Wilson - former youth-league teammates - could be reunited as a double-play combo. Expect Sanchez to return directly to second base as soon as he is healed.
The sweet-swinging Freddy Sanchez is still hindered by a strained right knee ligament. The injury happened on March 6th when he was turning a double play and was supposed to be a day-to-day thing. It's been 2 1/2 weeks and he's still not ready.
"It's frustrating. It's very disappointing, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't," Sanchez said Friday.Still no word on when he is expected back and whether he'll even be ready for the Pittsburgh Pirates' opener on April 2nd in Houston.
Sanchez can still hit. He can still field grounders. All that's keeping him off the field is the inability to run at full speed. Until he's confident that he can try to stretch a single into a double or turn a DP without feeling any pain, he won't be playing.
Reigning NL batting champ Freddy Sanchez left the Pittsburgh Pirates' exhibition game against the Phillies on Tuesday, which the Bucs ended up losing 11-10 in extras, after hurting his right knee.
The All-Star second baseman was injured in the fourth inning when catcher Rod Barajas slid into his knee as he was turning what I assume was a sweet double play at second.
He stayed down for a few minutes, then walked off the field wincing, accompanied by a trainer. Then, he spent about half an hour in the trainer's room, before telling reporters that he was alright and was scheduled for an MRI exam.
The Pittsburgh Pirates nearly have their arbitration cases wrapped up with the signing of NL batting champ Freddy Sanchez on Saturday. The two parties agreed to a $2.7 million, one-year contract with an opportunity for a $10,000 bonus after 650 at bats. Sanchez hit .344 last season with 200 hits and 85 RBIs.
The club also signed free-agent reliever Dan Kolb to a Minor League contract, with an invitation to Spring Training. Kolb will make $1.25 million if he makes the team and could earn another $1.3 million in incentives, otherwise he will return to free-agency. The right-hander held a 4.84 ERA last season with the Milwaukee Brewers in 48 innings pitched.
Second baseman Jose Castillo is the only remaining Pirate eligible for arbitration with a hearing scheduled for Feb. 14th.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette