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Sanchez tests shoulder in Minors game

Sanchez tests sore shoulder

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TAMPA, Fla. -- One week after walking off the field with pain in his right shoulder, Freddy Sanchez returned to the field in a Minor League game at Pirate City on Thursday.

Sanchez played just four innings, but according to general manager Neal Huntington, Sanchez's exit after the fourth was due to a personal obligation that Sanchez had to take care of, and not related to any further discomfort with his shoulder.

Sanchez made two plays in the field during the game. He made a diving stop on a ball to his left and threw out the runner at first. He also started a double play on a ground ball up the middle.

"It went without incident," Huntington said.

Sanchez's shoulder had not been tested that much during his two previous starts at second base this spring.

According to Huntington, Sanchez will be reevaluated on Friday morning and will play second in the team's Minor League game against Louisville later in the afternoon, if his shoulder responds favorably.

How Sanchez's shoulder responds these few days will go a long way in determining his status for the Pirates' season opener on Monday. As of now, Sanchez is not expected to begin the season on the disabled list since his shoulder does not bother him when he bats.

However, what Sanchez's limitations defensively could keep him off the field initially.

The All-Star second baseman has been bothered all spring by irritation in his right rotator cuff. The lingering discomfort, which the Pirates have determined not to be a byproduct of minor arthroscopic surgery Sanchez had on his shoulder last September, has kept him off the field for almost the entire slate of Spring Training games.

Sanchez played the field for the first time on March 19 and complained of discomfort afterward. Two days later, he came off the field saying that the discomfort had escalated to pain.

It was after that setback that the Pirates sent Sanchez to visit orthopedist Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Andrews' diagnosis matched that of the Pirates', meaning that Sanchez will let the irritation clear itself up.

Sanchez returned to Bradenton, Fla., and did some light tossing on Tuesday. He then took groundballs and increased how hard and how far he threw during infield practice on Wednesday. He noted no discomfort afterward.

In the meantime, Sanchez has continued to get his at-bats during the club's Minor League games this week.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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