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01/03/12 8:00 PM EST

Giants' Sanchez makes strides in recovery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Football was on television in the weight room at the Giants' Minor League training facility during Monday's continuous loop of BCS bowl games. But baseball was on Freddy Sanchez's mind.

The Giants second baseman took a small but encouraging step in his recovery from a dislocated right shoulder, as he began hitting off a tee.

"Swinging's not going to be a problem at all," said Sanchez, who sustained his season-ending injury June 10.

Throwing a baseball remains Sanchez's biggest challenge as he strives to regain full health in time for the April 6 season opener at Arizona. He has lengthened the distance of his tosses to 75-80 feet, and he'll increase the frequency of his workouts from three days per week to five beginning next week.

Ideally, of course, Sanchez will test his readiness for the regular season by appearing in Cactus League exhibitions. But he's not certain when he'll be fit for game activity.

"I want to and I feel like I'll be able to [play in exhibitions]," said Sanchez, who participated in a Giants strength and conditioning camp here last month and intends to take part in another one in a couple of weeks. "But at the same time, I'll go by what the trainers want. I want to be smart."

Various injuries limited Sanchez, 34, to 111 games in 2009 and '10 and 60 games last year. If there's anything positive about this, it's that he has learned to pace himself and maintain patience as he rehabilitates.

"Obviously you want it to go easier," said Sanchez, a .297 lifetime hitter who's penciled in to bat second in manager Bruce Bochy's lineup. "You still want to hurry up and rush things. But having gone through it, I know that I'm a lot further than I was last year or the year before."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.