You know a lot about Tony Sanchez already. Born May 20, 1988, in Miami… Oldest of two children… All-County three times in high school… Led Boston College in BA, H, HR, RBI, SLG and OPS as a Sophomore… As a Junior, finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, first BC player named to the All-ACC first team, threw out the most runners in the ACC, had 22 multi-hit games…First Round Draft Pick, #4 overall… batted .309 with 48 RBIs in 48 post-draft games with three Pirates affiliates his first year as a pro…Broken jaw, missed a large part of last season, drank Chef Boyardee through a straw…
What you may not know about Tony is that he is relentless. In his first MLB camp with the Pirates, he told Chuck Finder [about people and pundits who took the team to task for selecting him fourth overall],”It kind of fueled the fire, yeah. There are always going to be doubters, and you’re always going to have critics. If you just go out there and play the game, you’ll end up having them on your side. It just takes time.”
Pirates’ President Frank Coonelly said of Tony, “[W]e are extremely excited about Tony Sanchez and what he brings to the organization. He is a tremendous leader with an outstanding work ethic and high character.”
Even earlier this year here at Rumbunter, Tom said, “Remember, this guy worked his ass off to soar up the draft boards when he was in Boston College. It doesn’t appear he has stopped working since.”
In talking to Tony Sanchez, you get the feeling that he’s out to accomplish something, and he isn’t going to sit still and wait for that something to come to him. He speaks all in a rush – unhesitatingly, as if he’s grabbing the words out of the air and throwing them out with the ease that he grabs a Bryan Morris fastball and fires it to second to snare an attempting base stealer.
And Tony’s as exciting to speak to as he is to watch as a player: sharp, focused, but always, always, having fun. Even if you can’t see him, you can hear the smile on his face as he speaks. His laughter comes easy, and his excitement for the game – and life in general – is always right beneath the surface, ready to come up and overtake him if not held in (loose) check. I spoke with Tony last week before an Altoona Curve home game. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.
Cocktailsfor2: What’s your earliest baseball-related memory?
Tony Sanchez: My earliest baseball related memory is my dad yelling at me for not tying my cleats tight enough [laughs]. Easily, easily my earliest memory. I can remember that like it was yesterday. I was only about 5 years old and I can remember him yelling at me [about] tying my shoes because I didn’t do it right.
Cfor2: So, then, who was your favorite player when you were growing up?
TS: At that age I really didn’t know baseball too much, but as I got older I always looked up to Ivan Rodgriguez.
Cfor2: I can see that. What’s the best game you ever played and why was it the best game you’ve ever had?
TS: [mulling it over] The best game I’ve ever played… I’ve had two, and it’s hard to decide which one was the best one, but I can’t go against that regional game against Texas that Boston College played 25 innings and in front of 10,000 fans. In the first inning the fans were yelling at us and by the 25th inning they loved us. It was a great atmosphere to play in and to have that experience, and go there to that stadium and that kind of – such a prestigious program like Texas, and to take them 25 innings, to be basically one swing away from a win… and unfortunately we came away with a loss, but we had a lot of fun and we set the record for the longest game in NCAA history and I’ll tell you what – the next day I felt like a dang zombie, I couldn’t walk. But it was all worth it.
[Note:The game Tony is talking about was May 30, 2009, and lasted seven hours and three minutes. Tony knocked in the tying run in the 6th inning, which led to the marathon. And yes - He. Caught. All. 25. Innings.]
Cfor2: And all in all it was still just a game, so it’s great that you can come away with that attitude afterwards. What would be the other game?
TS: In high school, we were in the Regional playoffs and we were playing Sunset and I played for Killian and it was the bottom of the seventh and there were two outs. And our lead-off man and our two-hole hitter had got on base and we were down by three runs – no, we were down by two runs. So we had a man on first and second, and our three-hole hitter came up, struck out. Our four-hole hitter came up, struck out, and I was the five-hole guy. And like I said, we had two outs and we were one out away from missing State, and I was a sophomore with a bunch of guys who were absolutely humongous and guys who were a lot more advanced than I was, and I was the five-hole hitter and I came up to bat and he threw two balls and it was 2-0, and I cheated 2-0 and I hit a walk-off home run to send my team to State, and it was just an unbelievable memory. Any time I feel depressed or sad, I look at the photo album that my Mom made me and you just gotta look at the faces of my teammates and my coaches and the people in the stands and it’s absolutely unbelievable to make people cry, laugh, so proud, and it was an unbelievable experience.
Cfor2: That is pretty sweet. All right, which is more satisfying: hitting a double to the gap or catching a runner stealing a base?
TS: Easily, catching a runner.
Cfor2: Is it because you’re prouder of your defense than your hitting?
TS: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s always been like that. I put so much work into my defense. And not only does hitting a double in the gap – [it] does help your team out, but to throw a runner out… I take a special pride in working harder for my pitchers than I do for myself at the plate. So if I throw a runner out and help my pitcher that way, it’s a lot more, a bigger achievement for me than to hit a double.
Cfor2: Nice to squash the other team a little bit.
TS: Oh yeah, definitely!
Cfor2: All right. Tony, if you couldn’t play baseball, what you would you do?
TS: It’s a great question, [Cocktailsfor2]. A lot of people have asked me that… [laughs] My girlfriend asks me that every day because she hates that I’m so focused on baseball and that it runs my life and it’s the only thing I think of. But I mean, God, where would I be without baseball? I honestly have no idea. I don’t know what I would do. I like to think I have… I couldn’t even tell you the field I’d have outside. I’m a real friendly guy, personable guy, know how to talk to people, very respectful, loyal, very punctual, [laughs] I don’t know where that would take me but it’s gotta take me somewhere. I’d be in college, I’d be a regular guy – I’d definitely have my degree because I always got my work done. Whether or not that was to stay eligible and whether or not eligibility had any effect on that I don’t know [laughs] but I’m not gonna say it didn’t. So I’m gonna say I got my work done and got my degree anyways and who knows what I would have been.
Cfor2: There you go.
If you have no consequences regarding training or diet, what’s your favorite meal?
TS: Oh, man…my favorite meal, no consequences regarding caloric intake?
[Note: I swear I could almost hear Tony's eyes widening as he said that...]
TS: Jesus, man, you know… sometimes you really need to throw a Big Mac down the hatch with a large fry and a huge sweet tea and let it simmer down with a McFlurry with extra Reese’s Pieces.
Cfor2: Wow, I hope your Mom doesn’t read this article and find out it’s not her cooking!
TS: [Realizing what he has just said, laughs] Oh my God! … Well, my girlfriend’s cooking is unreal, but she loves fast food just as much as I do and when I’m with her there’s no way we’re getting it, so…
Cfor2: Now, if there is a caloric restriction or a diet or a training restriction what’s your favorite meal?
TS: Tuna sandwiches.
TS: I don’t know if you know – when I was at BC, before I got drafted, I was overweight and I did the “Jared Subway Diet” and all I did was crush tuna subs and became really disciplined with my diet. But I ate a lot of tuna subs and I lost 40 pounds, so… [laughing] It helped me get here.
Cfor2: I’m gonna have to try that.
A couple more quick ones. What’s your favorite Saturday night record to listen to?
TS: Anything country. I’m a big country guy. My apologies. I gotta elaborate?
Cfor2: You’ve gotta pick a record to put on for Saturday night.
TS: A record? Who listens to records? MP3s? [laughs]
Cfor2: Alright then, dude… what song is your Saturday night song?
TS: Saturday night…? Do we have a game on Sunday? ‘Cause if we have a game on Sunday, then there’s no beers involved… [laughs]
Cfor2: [laughing]There’s a follow-up to this question, so, no. No consequences.
TS: Jason Aldean’s new album … It’s so hard to choose. Zac Brown Band. Sarah Evans. I love it all. It’s so hard to choose one song to play. Normally what we do is throw the iPod on shuffle and anything that comes up is normally good, but…
Cfor2: The follow-up to that is, what’s your Sunday morning record?
TS: My Sunday morning record… You know, we really don’t have mornings because we don’t wake up until noon every day. [laughs] I’d say, “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” is one of my favorite songs by Blake Shelton.
Cfor2: Last question. It’s your third year as a pro. What’s your favorite stadium to play in so far?
TS: Easily Altoona. This place is unbelievable!
Cfor2: Is it? I haven’t been there yet, so..
TS: You gotta get out here! You gotta get out here for one or two games, because it’s a beautiful stadium and we got, obviously we got – I don’t know if you know, we’ve got the roller coaster in right, Altoona Curve down the left-field line… in the left-field awning a grassy area… behind the plate, there’s so many trees, a beautiful club house, a beautiful playing surface, a huge scoreboard, and the fans last night were unbelievable! We got four or five thousand and they’re all cheering for us and it was great, man! It was just a wonderful place to play. I’ve played at some good stadiums – I played in the ACC in college, and there were some good venues there. But to call this place home is an honor.
You can keep “track” (see whut i did there?) of the Altoona Curve and get Curve merchandise and tickets here, and you can follow Tony Sanchez on twitter as @TSanchez26 . You can follow Cocktailsfor2 on twitter as cocktailsfor2 , but I wouldn’t if I were you.