Pirates notebook: Sanchez makes most of starts at first base



CINCINNATI -- Gaby Sanchez's two home runs Monday night proved crucial in what ended up as a win after rain suspended the game. For him, they also were important because they came against right-handed pitchers.

"We don't face too many lefties or anything like that," Sanchez said. "Being able to come in and help the team out any which way is definitely a positive. That's what I'm here for."

Through their first 13 games, the Pirates have faced one left-handed starting pitcher, the Chicago Cubs' Travis Wood. As a result, the left-handed Travis Ishikawa started 10 of those games at first base, leaving the right-handed Sanchez with only three.

Manager Clint Hurdle said in spring training that he would not use a strict platoon between Ishikawa and Sanchez. The slew of right-handers out of the gates, combined with the fact the Pirates are scheduled to face five right-handers the rest of the week, means Hurdle must start Sanchez against right-handers if he wants to start him at all.

"It's not all hard numbers," Hurdle said of how he decides when to start Sanchez. "We're kind of old-school here. We'll look at what our eyes tell us and what our gut tells us and sometime the numbers scream at you. Sometimes, you can look at a batting average and it can read .200 and if you dig deeper it's four hard-hit balls and he only got two hits in 10 at-bats."

In 18 plate appearances through eight games, Sanchez had an .333 on-base percentage and .688 slugging percentage. In the weekend series in Milwaukee, Hurdle said, Sanchez worked on nothing but hitting the ball the opposite way.

"[Monday] felt good," Sanchez said. "Things that I'm putting in play in the cage and on the field during [batting practice] paid off. The thing is just to continue it, continue that feeling, continue getting the pitch that I need."

Sanchez's two home runs represented a third of the Pirates' long-ball output Monday night. The teams combined for 10 home runs in six innings before rain stopped the game.

"Definitely crazy," Sanchez said. "I'd never been in a game where that many home runs are hit by both teams, let alone one. It's one of those things that happens. Both teams were swinging the bat well."

Replay explanation

Hurdle said he was waiting on an explanation from Major League Baseball headquarters in New York City about the placement of a runner after an overturned call in Monday's game.

Todd Frazier hit a fly ball to right field that hit Travis Snider in the cheek as Snider slid across the foul line trying to catch it. The ball was ruled foul. Reds manager Bryan Price challenged the ruling. Umpires at the replay command center overturned the call, ruling the ball fair, and placed Frazier on second base.

"They never give it out until you ask, and I think appropriately so," Hurdle said. "Some things aren't needed to be asked. Whenever we've asked for an explanation or a clarification, we've gotten one."

Annual honor for Robinson

In honor of Jackie Robinson Day, all players and coaches wore uniforms with Robinson's No. 42. Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers April 15, 1947, breaking MLB's color barrier.


Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.

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