The Pittsburgh Pirates recalled Tony Sanchez and placed Russell Martin on the 15-day disabled list. In the Pirates post-game show, Gaby Sanchez said that Martin “has been banged up all season.” It’s very much like Martin to want to get on the field; the hard-nosed veteran always wants to be on the field.
It’s an unfortunate opportunity, but an opportunity nonetheless. Sanchez posted an OPS of .929 after being sent down to Triple-A when Chris Stewart returned from his knee injury. It’s an ideal time for Sanchez to show the Pirates that he can be relied upon to be the everyday catcher now, and as soon as next season. It’s likely Martin is going to get a hefty payday this offseason on the free agent market, leaving the Bucs without an everyday catcher.
Right on cue, Sanchez got another big knock late in the Pirates 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals today. Sanchez pushed his hitting streak to seven games. While Sanchez did strike out in his first three plate appearances, he delivered once again with a big two-run rip to give the Bucs some breathing room (and blowing the save opportunity for Mark Melancon).
Opportunities arise in strange ways in baseball, none worse than when a teammate is injured. But with the Pirates desperately needing offense to battle back in the National League Central, Sanchez just might be what the team needs.
With the bases drunk and the Pirates in a world of trouble, the Bucs catcher went out to speak with a nervous Stolmy Pimentel after he fell behind 3-2 on Yadier Molina. It was odd, too, as Pimentel had started the Cards’ best hitter with an 0-2 count. But three balls and also three foul balls off Molina’s bat made for a tense situation.
You know how the moment turned out, but it was still something exciting for the Bucs’ future. Pimentel threw a nasty changeup to Sanchez. A fist pump from Pimentel, a confident strut from Sanchez, and the threat was over. Three Cardinals runners were stranded with nothing to do but look for their gloves.
So, in his return to the big leagues, Sanchez blocked some nasty pitches, made some great calls – including a special moment with Pimentel -worked hard for a slew of Pirates relievers, and then delivered in the clutch.
That’s a pretty good start toward answering the big question.