Notes: Staying within Sanchez's game
Bucs second baseman trying to live up to NL batting title
LOS ANGELES -- A native of Burbank, Calif., Freddy Sanchez loves coming to Dodger Stadium, but he'll tell you it's just to see friends and family, not because he's got a .347 career average in Chavez Ravine.
According to Sanchez, the park doesn't matter, it's just a matter of staying within your game.
Last year, as others were talking about his chances of capturing the National League batting title with a .344 average, Sanchez wouldn't have any part of it, instead saying he was just focusing on his at-bats and staying within his game.
Of course, he admits that after the season was over, he did think about it.
"There were a couple times where you look back and think, 'Wow, I'm the National League batting champion,'" Sanchez said.
Now that the new season is under way, he says there is little time for that kind of thinking.
"It's a new year. You start fresh and sure. I won a batting title, but I can't live on last year, so I try not to think about it and just go about my business as I always have," he said.
The new season is here with new obstacles to overcome, both with how he approaches the game and how pitchers approach him.
"I don't think they are saying we have to stop Freddy Sanchez," he admitted, "But this is the big leagues, and no matter who you are, once a pitcher has faced you once, they're going to have a different game plan."
There has also been the issue of his Spring Training injury.
According to Sanchez, "Last year I was just trying to get at-bats and show what I could do, and this year I was supposed to just get at-bats in order to get ready."
Sanchez went on to say that's not how it worked out, though.
"With the injury, it was like I was in the same position, trying to get as many at-bats as I could this time [so] that I can get comfortable again."
There is also the matter of trying to not only repeat what he did last season, but do even more.
"I'm sure there are higher expectations for me, but no one is harder on me than I am," he said, adding, "I'll catch myself trying to yank a little more, thinking if I could just hit more home runs now, but I can't really think like that. I have to stay within my game."
Some spring in his bat: While many of the players may be complaining about the strange weather that has greeted them this spring, Pirates outfielder Xavier Nady loves the first month of the season. With his third home run earlier this week, Nady has 16 career home runs during April, the most of any month in his career. In addition, his 11 RBIs so far this season brings his April career total to 41, also his most of any month.
Home on the road: In 2006, the Pirates stumbled out of the gate on the road, winning just one of their first 14 games. This year however, Pittsburgh has already won six road games, a mark it didn't match last season until June 9, at which point it had already lost 25.
For manager Jim Tracy, this is just another reason for optimism.
"If we can play .500 on the road, and have the same success at home that we did last season, it could be very interesting come September," Tracy said.
Celebrating: Catcher Ronny Paulino turned 26 on Saturday. Off to a slow start, batting just .196, Tracy feels that Paulino is going to be an important part of the Pirates for a long time.
"Coming out of spring, he was really hitting well and showing the ability to do so much with the bat," Tracy said.
"I think some people are going to be surprised by how well he does," he added.
Down on the farm: Ryan Doumit had another big game for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday, going 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored, as the Indians came from behind and defeated Richmond 11-5. Doumit leads the International League with a .463 average, 15 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .780. On the mound, left-hander Sean Burnett is 3-0.
On deck: Lefty Tom Gorzelanny (2-0, 1.33 ERA) takes on righty Brett Tomko (0-0, 1.64) in the finale of the three-game series against the Dodgers, in a 4:10 p.m. ET start at Dodger Stadium.
Glenn Rabney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.