Sanchez gets shot at first base
SAN FRANCISCO -- Managers like saying that players write the lineup card. That is, a player's performance, not the manager's preference, determines who starts and who sits.
If that's the case, then Hector Sanchez is knocking on Bruce Bochy's office door asking to use the manager's pen.
After a slow start, Sanchez entered Tuesday hitting .353 (12-for-34) in his previous 10 games. Overall, he ranked fifth on the team with 16 RBIs despite amassing just 64 plate appearances.
It was no coincidence that Sanchez started Tuesday at first base, a position he had played exactly once -- in a Cactus League exhibition.
Asked if Sanchez would be rewarded for seizing upon his chances to excel, Bochy said, "That's why he's out there today. He's been driving in some key runs. You try to find a way to get that bat in the lineup."
Bochy acknowledged that Sanchez's defense could be an issue. Even Sanchez admitted that mastering the proper footwork around the bag would challenge him. But, Bochy said, "He has pretty good hands and I think he can handle it. We'll have to see how it goes. With [Brandon] Belt out, we're going to get a little creative here."
Bochy reiterated that Michael Morse will receive the "lion's share" of playing time at first base during Belt's absence. But when a left-handed starter pitches for the opposition, as Atlanta's Mike Minor did Tuesday night, Bochy said he might use Sanchez or Buster Posey at first base. If Posey were to play first, Sanchez would catch. "I would like to get Hector out there as much as I can," Bochy said.
Sanchez insisted that didn't feel nervous about playing first. "Catching's harder," he explained.
Sanchez credited hitting coach Hensley Meulens for sparking his offensive surge. Three weeks ago when the Giants visited the Colorado Rockies, Meulens encouraged Sanchez after the switch-hitter's batting average dwindled to a season-low .120. "He told me, 'You know what kind of hitter you are. Don't put pressure on yourself. Trust your hands.' "
In the April 23 series finale, Sanchez delivered two homers, including an 11th-inning grand slam that lifted the Giants to a 12-10 victory. He has remained productive since.