IL notes: Sanchez growing, maturing

Bucs catching prospect looking out for self, pitching staff

By John Wagner / Special to | April 22, 2013 6:00 AM ET

Most players understand that they carry their future in their own hands. For Indianapolis catcher Tony Sanchez, that burden is heavier.

"I've got 12 other careers in my hands -- our pitching staff," he said. "With pitch-calling, getting our pitchers through outings as far as they can go, I have a lot of responsibility.

"But that's what I signed up for. That's why I love the catching position."

The path to Pittsburgh hasn't been a smooth one for Sanchez, the fourth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. His first bump in the road came in 2010 with Double-A Altoona, where he batted .241 in 118 games. He returned to the Curve and hit .277 last year, then batted .233 in a 62-game stint with Indianapolis.

When you factor in off-the-field distractions like trouble with Twitter posts in 2011 and an offseason incident in a bar prior to 2012, it's easy to see where questions might arise regarding Sanchez's commitment to his career. But Indians manager Dean Treanor has been pleased with the development Sanchez has shown.

"That shows you his growth and maturity," Treanor said when told that Sanchez takes responsibility for the success of his pitching staff. "That's what we're looking for, especially at that position.

"It says a lot about him because in the Minor Leagues a lot of guys feel it's all about them. For him to look outward and make helping those other guys a part of his day speaks volumes about him."

Sanchez has thrown out only three of 11 basestealers this season. But he has meshed well with Indians pitchers, whose 2.81 ERA ranks third in the International League.

"In high school and college, I didn't call pitches," Sanchez said. "Now I think I have enough experience that I can tell pitchers what I see and tell them what I think they should throw. And the more success we have, the more those guys will trust me."

Treanor said Sanchez is improving in all phases behind the plate.

"He has some tools, that's why he was selected where he was," Treanor said. "He still has some growing to do: we're tightening up some stuff on the receiving side. But if he's going to go up to the next level, it will be about calling a game and working with pitchers."

While juggling all of his responsibilities behind the plate, the 24-year-old Sanchez hit .256 with a home run and seven RBIs in his first 12 games this season.

"[Offense] is on the checklist," he said. "I'm starting to take more pride in my offense and not just completely setting it in the back seat, which I've done the past couple of years."

Putting all those things together will help Sanchez reach the only goal he said he set for this season.

"Get to Pittsburgh as early as possible," he said.

In brief

Colabello' fast start: Even though Rochester started the season 3-11, 1B Chris Colabello has been swinging a hot bat. His homer against Pawtucket on April 20 was his sixth this season (placing him second in the IL) and gave him 11 RBIs. He also has a pair of doubles for a .722 slugging percentage. Colabello begins the week with a .352 batting mark, easily the best on a team with a collective .225 average.

Dice-K becoming Dice-BB: Columbus RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, who posted a 50-37 record in six seasons for Boston, has struggled this year. In his first three IL starts, the Japanese right-hander has given up only nine hits in 11 1/3 innings but has issued a league-leading 16 walks, including five in 2 1/3 innings against Indianapolis on April 12 and eight over four innings on April 18 at Toledo. While opponents have a .220 batting average, the walks have resulted in a .424 on-base percentage.

He said it: "It got to the point I just wanted to know where I was going to play. I think I ended up in the best possible position here with the Orioles. They like to use a lot of Minor League guys, give guys opportunities, and that's all you can ask for." -- Tides IF Russ Canzler to The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot. Canzler was part of a flurry of offseason roster moves. He was waived by Cleveland, then claimed and waived by both Toronto and the New York Yankees before being claimed by Baltimore.

He said it, Part II: "I've got my confidence back and I know what to do in the field to help the team win some ballgames. That's what I'm going to continue to do here every single day with the same intensity." -- Pawtucket SS Jose Iglesias to the Providence Journal. The 23-year-old Iglesias hit .217 in his six games since coming to Pawtucket on April 11.

John Wagner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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