Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson on trade rumors, "It is definitely a distraction."
By Chuck Finder Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jack Wilson's job as a Pirates leader carries some additional duties this time of year.
He coaxes fellow trade-talk subjects off ledges.
"Help talk guys going through it, like Freddy (Sanchez), (John) Grabow and (Matt) Capps," said Wilson, who has been perpetual grist for the trade-rumor mill for too long now. "I guess this is my third year going through this. It takes focus away from baseball.
"There's no excuse for having a bad July. But there's such a recurrence. My last three Julys have (stunk). You don't give that full focus to ball. You look on the internet. You call your agent ... You're doing stuff you don't do the first three months of the season. It is definitely a distraction. Unfortunately. But it is the game."
The names of Sanchez and Wilson oft have been mentioned lately amid that churning mill, and they've read all about it on one of their favorite Web sites, MLBTradeRumors.com. Relievers Grabow and Capps haven't received as much attention as the longtime middle-infield pals. Then again, there weren't contract-extension offers made to those bullpen boys barely two weeks in advance of the trade deadline, either.
So when both Sanchez and Wilson were given the day off last night before the Pirates faced San Francisco in AT&T Park, it created an online buzz -- even at that aforementioned site -- about a potential trade.
"Obviously, I want to play and get out there," said Sanchez, who missed a game last weekend and last night missed his second consecutive with a sore and tender left knee. "I played on it a couple of days in Arizona, and it didn't feel great. It's a little concerning. I want to give it a couple of more days."
Pirates manager John Russell planned to also give his regular second baseman off today, the same as Ryan Doumit, who has played non-stop since returning from his wrist surgery shortly before the All-Star break. That way, Sanchez could get four consecutive days' of rest before a possible return Friday at PNC Park against Washington. Meantime, Russell gave Wilson the night off as a precautionary measure after the shortstop missed four games last week due to a balky left hamstring, but he wanted at least one veteran of more than a single major-league season in the lineup today against San Francisco.
Wilson understood the logic about trying to "make sure (the hamstring) doesn't flare back up. I played the last three games without much problem. But I don't get many days off that aren't injury related. I'll just sit back and consume myself with the game."
It is admittedly difficult to concentrate on nothing but the game when there are wives and families and potential moves and flights and drastic changes looming as possibilities. Wilson joked how his son, Jacob, is still upset about Drake LaRoche "getting traded" along with father Adam last week. And that's where Wilson's, well, expertise comes into play.
"Freddy, this is his first time through the rumor mill," Wilson kidded of his agitated pal. "He's funny to watch."
"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't tough," Sanchez said of the constant trade whispers. "You try to put it aside and just play. When you're dealing with this stuff, you're also dealing with your family. ... We can deal with pressure every day. Up there at the plate, two outs in the ninth inning. But it's a different pressure."
Adding to the tension here: These same Giants have been cited as one of the suitors for Sanchez. That explained why a handful of San Francisco media lurked around the Pirates clubhouse, waiting for Sanchez to emerge from the training room last night. What if he merely switched clubhouse sides of AT&T Park?
"Rumors are rumors," Sanchez replied. "There has been a lot of speculation about players who haven't gone anywhere at all. (But) it's a little different when you're in the place they're talking about."
Follow bouncing ball
Perry Hill, the infield coach with the Gold Glove-filled portfolio, called it "hacky sack." Delwyn Young teased that, instead of going through trick-play drills in infield practice the way Wilson and Sanchez do, "we got soccer practice later."
The day after Young at second base and right fielder Garrett Jones completed a three-bounce out that wasn't one, an instant that topped ESPN's "Plays of the Day" for Monday, the parties involved had some fun with a moment that ended with the Giants scoring a fourth run en route to an eventual 4-2 triumph.
"Glove, knee, foot, hand. Out," Young described it. Randy Winn's hit caromed off the first three belonging to Jones -- "I couldn't even tell you," said Young -- and wound up in the sprawling, adjusting, bare right hand of Young. He pleaded with second base umpire Dale Scott to call it an out, but quickly threw out a similarly confused Winn straying between first and second. "Never seen anything like it," offered Hill.
Grabow earned a few jeers from the AT&T Park patrons in the eighth when he asked the grounds crew to repair a hole in the mound dirt after he walked back-to-back batters with two outs. They mockingly applauded when he walked the next hitter, only to see him retire Juan Uribe on a fly ball and end the inning.
Giants starter Tim Lincecum, who created the hole with his long stride, promptly came out and performed his own landscaping before finishing off the triumph.
"He likes it the way he likes it," Grabow said with a shrug.