Is Hector Sanchez mashing his way onto the roster?

March 25, 2012, 12:24 am
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Young catcher Hector Sanchez continuesto post big numbers this spring. And he might be starting to change the Giantsroster calculus.

The 22-year-old switch hitter had another banner afternoonSaturday, first pulling a two-run home run off Rockies right-hander JuanNicasio, then working a long and impressive at-bat that ended with anopposite-field double off Esmil Rogers.

Sanchez is hitting .452 with a team-leading four home runsand 10 RBIs. He has a .935 slugging percentage and half of his 14 hits havegone for extra bases. He didnt lose any momentum from a huge season in theVenezuelan winter league.

But will he fit on the Giants opening-day roster?

With Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Vogelsong expected to start theseason on the disabled list, the Giants should have two extra spots toallocate. It would be logical to use one of those spots on Hector Sanchez, especiallyconsidering that Buster Posey could be eased back into everyday duties behindthe plate early in the season.

A third catcher isnt the worst thing to have in the shortterm especially one who could be a switch-hitting threat off the bench.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy appears to be warming to theidea. Just a few days ago, he called the young Sanchez a longshot in the competition withEli Whiteside and Chris Stewart.

But after watching Sanchez rake again in a 7-6 loss to theRockies, Bochy said he and the staff would stay open minded.

Youd have to say hes in the mix, particularly with howhes playing, Bochy said. Of course, you come up with the idea of, Is hebetter off playing every day or playing a couple times a week and coming offthe bench? These are the things well discuss this week.

Sanchez still has plenty to learn behind the plate, both ingame calling and blocking skills. For that reason, the plan was to send Sanchezto Triple-A Fresno where he can continue his development.

But as Bochy said just 24 hours earlier when discussing NateSchierholtz, its incumbent upon him to pick players who can put runs on theboard. Nobody in camp has done that better than Sanchez.

Hes a nice player. He had a nice winter ball, Bochy said.Hes got the ability from both sides, a good eye, uses the whole field. Hereally doesnt have a hole, and hes a smart hitter. He knows what he wants todo up there. Hes got a great gift there.

Sanchez said he made huge strides with Tiburones this winterafter coaches suggested he use a quieter stance and keep his hands still.

I think that helps me a lot, he said. I feel comfortableup there. Everybody wants to be in the big leagues. I just try to play hard andwait for the opportunity. Thats all I can do.

One other factor to consider as the Giants look at variousroster possibilities: Of their first 10 games, four of them are day games precededby night games. The Giants have 39 such quick turn games on the schedule thisseason.

Posey has caught just 27 innings all spring three fullgames, really and neither he nor the coaching staff can be certain how his reconstructedankle will respond.

Posey played six innings at first base Saturday and lookedcomfortable while receiving throws. He also made an on-target throw to theplate, where Sanchez applied a tag on a fielders choice.

Posey also continues to look comfortable at the plate. Hehad a pair of RBI hits Saturday, bouncing a single up the middle and runningwell on a double to right-center field. His average is up to .319.

Posey will be off Sunday but will get stretched out to catchnine innings soon, Bochy said.

Hes coming out of these games with no issues, Bochy said.Hes getting his at-bats. Hes getting his timing.

Sanchezs timing appears to be right on, too.

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