Pirates Notebook: Weather big factor in return of Sanchez

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CINCINNATI -- Freddy Sanchez did not have a chance to play for Class AAA Indianapolis last night, which could hasten his joining the Pirates.

In fact, the second baseman could be here today.

Cold weather caused the postponement of the Indians' game against visiting Columbus last night. Indianapolis has another night game scheduled today, but the weather forecast for Indianapolis is not favorable -- 24 degrees at scheduled game time, strong winds out of the west and possible snow flurries.

So with the possibility of another postponement, perhaps Sanchez and the Pirates will conclude it is better for him to come here.

"I won't rule it out," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "But I won't rule it in, either. We'll just take it a day at a time and see how things go."

Sanchez, hampered by a sprained right knee, had a double and walked twice Thursday. He also grounded to second, which might have been his most significant accomplishment.

That ground ball followed a leadoff double by Nyjer Morgan, who moved to third on the play, then scored on a subsequent single.

"Doesn't that say a lot about who [Sanchez] is?" Tracy said. "I've said it many, many times -- he just knows how to play the game. He's a big-time weapon for us when we eventually get him back."

Burnett on mission

Sean Burnett, who said he was "furious, frustrated" after being sent to minor-league camp March 24, took out some of that anger in an opening day victory Thursday for Class AAA Indianapolis.

The left-hander allowed six hits and a walk and struck out three in a five-inning scoreless stint against Columbus. He threw 50 strikes among his 81 pitches.

Burnett, who missed the 2005 season because of Tommy John surgery, caught the attention of Indianapolis manager Trent Jewett the day he was cut. Jewett and Indianapolis pitching coach Jeff Andrews consoled Burnett before he left McKechnie Field.

"I know the road he's traveled with the injury and the year he had last year from the health standpoint and trying to get through it and rebuild what he once had," Jewett said. "He's come full circle. He's back to where he was [in 2004], and I expect him to be better than he was. I have full faith that he will be a strong contributor to the organization."

Jewett could empathize with Burnett's disappointment over not making the Pirates' season-opening rotation.

"I think any good competitor is going to have those emotions," he said. "[Getting sent out] is not something that should be taken lightly. I think it will motivate him. I think he'll use it to his advantage. And I think he will prove his value in time."

Jackie Robinson tribute

Pirates pitcher Ian Snell and first base coach John Shelby said yesterday they are considering wearing uniform No. 42 April 15 when Major League Baseball honors Jackie Robinson.

Several players or coaches on other major-league teams -- including Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. -- have announced they will wear Robinson's number that day. Major League Baseball retired Robinson's number 10 years ago on the 50th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier in the majors.

Barring rainouts, Snell is scheduled start the April 15 game against San Francisco.

Buried treasure

Jose Hernandez, released March 30 by the Pirates, has agreed to join the Indianapolis club. "Which I think is great," Tracy said. The utility infielder will be with Indianapolis by Tuesday.

Tony Armas, scheduled to start the game today for the Pirates, said he's a "little anxious" to get his season started. "I don't really mind, though," he said. "It's not hard. I just want to go out and perform and do my job."

Zach Duke, who was scheduled to start tonight, was moved back to tomorrow because of a cracked nail on his left middle finger. Duke confirmed yesterday he is good to go tomorrow.

The Cincinnati Reds expect to bring left-hander Eric Milton off the disabled list and start him tomorrow. Milton went on the DL March 23 because of back spasms.

Friday's results

INDIANAPOLIS (1-0) and Columbus were postponed by cold.
ALTOONA and host Erie were postponed by cold.
LYNCHBURG (0-2) lost to Potomac, 7-1. RHP Todd Redmond (0-1, 12.27) allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings. 1B Steve Pearce (.222) went 2 for 4 with a double.
HICKORY (2-0) won at Hagerstown, 11-10. RHP Brad Clapp (1-0, 5.40) allowed three runs in five innings and struck out five. RF Jamie Romak (.429) hit his second home run in as many days, a two-run shot. LF Alex Presley (.375) went 3 for 4 with a walk.



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