Gaby Sanchez prepared to forgo Pirates' 1B platoon

BRADENTON, Fla. — Gaby Sanchez is like everyone else who isn’t privy to the general manager’s text messages and emails.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” the first baseman said Tuesday before the Pirates held their first full-squad workout of spring training at Pirate City.

Pirates GM Neal Huntington spent the entire off-season trying to acquire a left-handed hitting first baseman to platoon with the right-handed hitting Sanchez but came away empty.

There has been talk that the Pirates have at least some interest in switch-hitting Kendrys Morales, who is a free agent. But the Pirates would have to give up their first-round pick – 25th overall – in this year’s amateur draft to the Mariners as compensation for signing Morales.

The Pirates are also going to look at left-handed hitting rookie Andrew Lambo at first base when Grapefruit League games begin next week. He hit a combined 32 home runs between Class AA Altoona and Class AAA Indianapolis last season.

But Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle said repeatedly over the winter that they would feel comfortable with Sanchez as their everyday first baseman.

Sanchez, who lost 20 pounds by following a more difficult off-season workout regimen, believes he is up to the task after platooning last season with Garrett Jones, who became a free agent and signed with the Marlins during the off-season after the Pirates failed to tender him a contract.

“Of course, I want to be an everyday player, who wouldn’t?” Sanchez said with a smile. “I’ve done it before in my career, and I feel like I can do it if that’s what this team needs. I feel like I’m in great shape and prepared to play on a regular basis.”

The biggest question surrounding Sanchez is whether he can hit right-handed pitching on a consistent basis. Over his six-year career, he has a .895 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) against left-handers but a .700 mark versus righties.

“I really believe if I get the chance to play regularly against right-handed pitchers that I would have success against them,” Sanchez said. “It’s like anything else, the more you do something, the better you are going to get at it. I know I can hit righties. It’s not like I’ve never got a hit off of one.

“Hopefully, I’ll get that opportunity and I’ll take advantage of it. We’ll see what happens.”

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