Pirates Notebook: Sanchez to remain starter says Littlefield
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With Joe Randa getting closer to a return from the disabled list, Pirates general manager David Littlefield yesterday reversed course and said Freddy Sanchez would remain the team's starting third baseman.
INDIANAPOLIS (32-23) lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 3-1. LHP Tom Gorzelanny (4-4, 2.72) allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. He struck out five, walked three and threw 56 of 90 pitches for strikes. RHP Jonah Bayliss (1.90) pitched two scoreless innings of relief.
ALTOONA (34-23) beat New Hampshire, 3-1. RHP Landon Jacobsen (6-5, 3.50) allowed one run in six innings. LHP Shane Youman (1.62) pitched two scoreless innings of relief. 1B Simon Pond (.281) went 3 for 3 with a walk.
LYNCHBURG (26-29) won at Winston-Salem, 7-4. RHP Matt Guillory (4-2, 5.79) allowed four runs in 32/3 innings. RHP Steve Duguay (2.18) pitched a scoreless 12/3 innings for his seventh save. C Neil Walker (.239) went 1 for 5 with a two-run double.
HICKORY (24-29) lost at Lakewood, 2-1. RHP Joe Bauserman (3-4, 3.75) allowed two runs, one earned, in six innings. CF Andrew McCutchen (.283) went 0 for 4.
"We're going to keep [Sanchez] there at third," Littlefield said. "Early on, when Joe first got hurt, that probably wasn't the thinking."
Despite Sanchez's hot bat, the team had planned to return Randa to the starting lineup upon his return. Sanchez changed his bosses' minds by going on a tear that has had him at or within striking distance of the National League lead in batting average. He sits at .345 going into the game tonight at Colorado.
"If Freddy's going to hit .350, I think he should be playing third base," Littlefield said.
Randa, who has been out since May 1 with a bone contusion in his right foot, traveled with the club to Colorado and will work out in spikes, run and take batting practice. He could be sent to Class AAA Indianapolis for a rehabilitation assignment as early as the weekend, Littlefield and manager Jim Tracy said, and could rejoin the Pirates soon after.
Sanchez, whose four home runs is a relatively low number for a player at his position, said he isn't going to change his style.
"I'm not going to hit 30 home runs or anything like that," he said. "I've got to stay gap to gap, put the ball in play. I feel like I can to that, and I feel like I can help the team win."
Sanchez had not heard about his elevation to full-time starter directly from Littlefield.
"But it feels good to know he feels that way," Sanchez said.
Wells closer to return
Pitcher Kip Wells also could be nearing a return.
Wells, a right-hander who had surgery March 6 to repair an artery in his throwing shoulder, is scheduled to make another start in extended spring training today in Bradenton.
Wells will then have a bullpen session tomorrow or Wednesday, putting him back on a starter's schedule, and the Pirates will make a determination on a rehabilitation assignment for him "in the next few days," Tracy said.
Although they were shut down by San Diego pitcher Chris Young yesterday, the Pirates finished their homestand at 7-3. That means they had almost twice as many wins in those 10 games as they have had in all of their road games this season.
At 4-22 away from PNC Park, including 1-11 in one-run games on the road, the Pirates are looking for a heap of improvement.
"We played well at home all year, but the bottom line is that if you want to be a winning club you've got to win at home and on the road," first baseman Sean Casey said. "Now it's time to start winning some ballgames on the road.
"There's no reason we can't do that and reverse that trend."
Over the course of the homestand, the Pirates won a series against Houston, swept four games from Milwaukee and dropped two of three to San Diego in a soggy weekend series.
Now they play three games at Colorado and four at San Francisco.
"The biggest thing for us is to keep the confidence going after the successful homestand," shortstop Jack Wilson said. "There's no better way to go on the road than a great homestand."
And there might be no better place for the Pirates -- who averaged 6.7 runs per game during the homestand -- to continue to hone their offense on the road than hitter-friendly Coors Field.
"I'd just like to see us get a few extra hits on the road," Tracy said. "I would really like to see us go out there and have a real good road trip, especially because of the homestand that we've put together.
"If we turn around and have a really good road trip and come back here a week from [tomorrow] and look at it and say that from where we started to where we're at, and knowing that there's one hell of a lot of baseball left to be played, there's a strong opportunity then to go on through 2006 and walk away feeling real good about yourself."
The game started on time and was played in intermittent showers but nothing as heavy as Friday night, when the teams played on a soupy field.
In light of some criticism that Friday night's game was played in adverse conditions, umpire Bill Miller wanted fans to know that although he was working behind the plate that game, it was crew chief Gerry Davis who made the call to keep playing.
Tracy made a point of lauding outfielder Jason Bay for his effort in hustling to beat out an infield hit in the first Saturday night to keep alive what turned out to be a five-run inning in a 6-4 win. "That's the kind of thing a father talks about to his young son," Tracy said.
Bay's triple in the seventh yesterday was the Pirates' first since May 13.
First Published June 5, 2006 12:00 am