Aug 14, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez (59) hits a one run single off of St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Shelby Miller (not pictured) during the fourth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates: Can Tony Sanchez Crack Opening Day Roster?


Entering the offseason, there was very little doubt the Pittsburgh Pirates had to improve the backup catching position as they simply couldn’t go into another season with Michael McKenry backing up Russell Martin.

But was that guy on the roster all along?

Sep 19, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez (59) reacts after tumbling into the San Diego Padres dugout to record an out during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 10-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates’ offseason addition of Chris Stewart means the almost certain demotion of Tony Sanchez to Triple-A Indianapolis will come at the end of spring training.

However Sanchez made a statement on Tuesday that said he has no plans to head back to the minors any time soon.

Sanchez went 2 for 3 with a double and a three-run homer, both to the opposite field in the Pirates’ Black and Gold Game, leading the Gold Squad to a 4-3 victory.

Now, let’s not read anything into one good performance in a spring training scrimmage, but you have to think by now that Sanchez has done enough to earn himself a spot as the Pirates No. 2 catcher.

What else can he learn from another season in Triple-A?

The Pirates will claim that Sanchez will benefit more from playing every day, but the reality of the situation is that he would likely benefit more from being the Bucs’ No. 2 catcher at the MLB level. He’s likely going to take over as the No. 1 catcher next season and the added MLB experience next to a veteran like Martin would prove much more valuable.

However, the likely scenario is that it doesn’t matter what Sanchez does this spring. He’s going to be ticketed for the minors.

I was all in favor of the Pirates adding a backup catcher in the offseason as McKenry was awful in 2013 and you can’t have a liability like him on your roster all season. Stewart at least gives the Bucs a legitimate No. 2 catcher who is outstanding defensively.

But I wasn’t in favor of making the move when you had a capable young guy like Sanchez already on the roster.

The one thing that Sanchez can do is have a monster spring and at least make the decision a difficult one for the Pirates. That’s all he can really do as the decision isn’t in his hands.

But, at the end of the day, Sanchez will again have to wait for his opportunity.


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