Pirates Prospect Interview: Tony Sanchez

With Russell Martin signing with Toronto, the Pirates are working very hard on the development of Tony Sanchez behind the plate. Sanchez is in the Dominican Republic to play winter ball. Although the Pirates experimented with playing him at first base last season at Triple-A Indianapolis, Sanchez will only catch in winter ball. PiratesDugout.com’s George Von Benko spoke with Sanchez.

GVB -- Talk about this past season at Triple A Indianapolis. The offensive numbers weren’t what you were looking for?

TS -- No you could say that. They were awful. But defensively that’s all that mattered to me. That I was catching well and getting guys through innings, and making sure I was putting myself in the right spot. I‘ve had my defensive struggles and they wanted me to go down there and work on those and that‘s all I really focused on was making sure I could take care of those.

GAB -- So the offense suffered because you were concentrating so much on defense?

TS -- You know I still wanted to hit, I still took pride in being the best guy in the lineup and I wanted to be that guy, but at the end of the day when I was 0-for-4, caught a great game, I was like whatever. I felt great behind the plate. It was hard for me to really lock in offensively, then I started to panic and doing different things with my swing and changing my stance and any time you do that you’re in trouble and I got in trouble down there offensively, but for the most part I was down there working on my defense.

GVB -- Were you happy with some of the things you did defensively?

TS -- Calling the game I’ve played against most of the guys in Triple A the last three years and knew everybody, I knew every hitter, so calling the game wasn’t really what I was focusing on, but it was throwing to each base and the accuracy and consistency. That was what I was most concerned about, and I went down there and did the job on what I needed to work on and getting all that done.

GVB -- You are playing winter ball and catching. A chance to work more on your defense. But you are going to tweak some things on offense right?

TS -- Oh definitely, this is as close to the big leagues as you are going to get. For me to get the experience and at bats I need. I need as many as bats as possible and continue working on what I need to behind the plate.

GVB -- How important is this playing time in winter ball looking ahead to spring training?

TS -- That’s the reason I wanted to play winter ball. I wanted to get in that environment and get out of my comfort zone. I’ve played with Pirates since I got drafted, but I’m comfortable with them all. It’s nice to play for some people who have never seen me before in a country where baseball is everything.

GVB -- You got out of whack offensively. Is it important to stay the course and believe in what you are doing at the plate?

TS -- It is most important and down in Triple A all I could do was tell myself how good I was in the big leagues. You have to believe in yourself, I kept believing in myself behind the plate, but it was at the plate where I was struggling the most.

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