Sanchez Endures Frustrating Season

As the Pittsburgh Pirates play out the string in their 16th consecutive losing season – their second baseman Freddy Sanchez is trying to finish off a sub par year with a flourish.

Sanchez a former All-Star and a former National League batting champion has endured a very frustrating season. He came into spring training armed with a new two-year, $18.9 million contract with an option for 2010 that could be worth up to $9 million. But he missed most of spring training with shoulder problems that made him a defensive liability the first two months of the season.

He also struggled offensively and at the All-Star break was hitting .226 with five home runs and 35 RBI. Since the All-Star break he has perked up batting .351 with three home runs and 15 RBI and has raised his batting average to .263.

"I knew that it was going to come around and it was just a matter of when," Sanchez explained. "I was fortunate enough that it started to turn around a little bit and I started to feel more comfortable after the break. I've put the first half behind me and I'm moving forward."

Still the shoulder problems persist with an inflamed rotator cuff and Sanchez left the September 9 game against the Houston Astros in the second inning because of blurred vision in his right eye. Sanchez had what he described as "plugs" put into his eye to keep it moisturized. He got his eye checked out on Friday and his vision has gone from 20/20 to 20/25, but he thinks that can be taken care of with a contact, which he's likely to get. He wasn't in the lineup on Friday against the Cardinals, but says he could have been. Sanchez wants to finish the season and play.

"I don't want to shut it down," said Sanchez. "Obviously, you come in to play the whole year. I want to finish the season out and try to play through this thing."

One part of Sanchez' game that seems to have returned in the second half of the season is his patented "Fillet of Fish" hits to right field.

"I started to get back to where I needed to work the other way," Sanchez said. "I focused on going the other way and there's a lot of hits going the other way for me and I started to get back to that and just try to hit it where it's pitched."

Sanchez has been told that he'll require two to three months without any throwing before his weakened rotator cuff will fully heal. But he says the problem has nothing to do with the shoulder surgery he underwent in the off season.

"It's one of those injuries where no surgery is needed," Sanchez offered. "It's just the rotator cuff is so inflamed so that every now and then a certain throw will irritate it and get it inflamed again and then it needs a couple of days to calm down, but it has nothing to do with the surgery – it is something totally different."

Sanchez is trying to finish on a high note, but admits that it has been a very frustrating season.

"Obviously it's the most frustrating year of my career," Sanchez stated. "I'm taking it day-by-day and I can't worry about what I did and how frustrated I was. I struggled this year for the first three months and I'm just trying to finish strong."


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