Sanchez hits, does light throwing

Could pinch-hit to open season, but for how long?

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Freddy Sanchez resumed swinging a bat, and he even threw a little.

But it remained very much unclear yesterday if the All-Star second baseman can open the season Monday in Atlanta.

"We're going to have to play it day by day," manager John Russell said.

On this day, Sanchez's first after getting a second opinion that confirmed his ailing right shoulder has nothing more than inflammation, he started out by taking infield practice at McKechnie Field -- minimal throwing involved -- then took four at-bats in a Class AAA game at Pirate City.

He did not take the field for the game but, perhaps most significant, participated in light tossing from 60 feet and described no discomfort afterward.

The Pirates plan to reevaluate his health today to determine when he might throw again.

"Until we know that, I'm not going to know anything," Sanchez said. "Right now, I'm just anxious to find out what's wrong, why I've had the pain and when I can play."

If he were unable to play the field once the regular season begins, Sanchez would prefer to stay with the team and pinch-hit rather than go on the disabled list.

Russell, asked if Sanchez could remain on the roster as a pinch-hitter, sounded cautious. "It depends on how far along he is. You can't carry a guy in the National League for very long if he can only hit."



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