F. Sanchez still working on pivot plays
Giants manager wants more strength on 2B's throws
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The "short" throw from second base is presenting a tall challenge for Freddy Sanchez.Sanchez could start at second base as early as Saturday, when the Giants play day-night, home-road, split-squad doubleheader games against the A's and Dodgers, respectively. Manager Bruce Bochy rated Sanchez's chances of making his 2012 defensive debut on that day as "50-50." The lingering uncertainty stemmed from Sanchez's perceived struggles Thursday to unleash throws freely while taking pregame infield practice for the first time during Spring Training. Bochy said that he noticed a certain tentativeness when Sanchez, who's attempting to overcome a dislocated right shoulder that ended his 2011 season last June 10, flung the ball to first base. Bochy said that Sanchez particularly looked guarded while trying to turn double plays. The double-play pivot and throw is widely considered the most formidable challenge for a second baseman, since his momentum typically carries him away from first base. "I was honest with him," Bochy said. "I thought he was a little hesitant, which he appreciated. I think he knows he wasn't quite 100 percent."
Sanchez, who has appeared in four Cactus League exhibitions as a designated hitter, acknowledged Bochy's remarks, though he contended that he didn't feel as if he were restricting himself."I'm glad he told me that," Sanchez said. "When other people see it, it's good to let me know. Once he sees that hesitancy gone, that's a great sign that I'll be able to get in there." Sanchez admitted that he hasn't regained the knack of turning double plays. "The [throws] that I have to [make] to first are great. It's that turn where I need to get more on it," he said. "It's something that's going to take some time. I think that's going to be the biggest obstacle, because I have to try to use a lot more of my legs, rather than just my arm, to try to get something on the ball." Indeed, Bochy said that he wants to see Sanchez display "strength" and "free movement" with his throws before he'll consider returning the 34-year-old to second base. Sanchez will receive another chance to prove himself Friday when he's expected to take infield again. Thursday's experience left him feeling optimistic, even with Bochy's constructive criticism. "It's going to take some time to get over the initial feel of it," Sanchez said. "But I think I was off to a good start to go out there for the first day, work on footwork and make the throws all the way to first." Asked if his shoulder felt at all sore, Sanchez replied, "Obviously I'm going to have my ups and downs. That's just how it's going to be, probably all year. So there's going to be tightness in there; there's going to be soreness. But that's all part of the process." If Sanchez begins the regular season feeling fit enough to start but still throwing at less than full strength, the Giants might have to adjust their method for cutting off throws from their outfielders. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, whose arm strength would make many pitchers envious, would take throws originating between the left-field line and right-center field, instead of simply halving the responsibilities with Sanchez.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.