SAN FRANCISCO -- At one point a long shot to make the Giants' roster, Hector Sanchez has emerged as a dependable handler of the San Francisco pitching staff.
Sanchez was behind the plate for Tim Lincecum's scoreless seven-inning performance Wednesday, as well as all of Lincecum's current 12-inning scoreless streak.
"It's amazing the strides he has made as a catcher," manager Bruce Bochy said before Thursday's opener against the Reds. "This is a really young kid who hasn't had a lot of time in the Minors. He's come along."
Heading into Spring Training, the backup catcher position looked to belong to either Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart, not the 22-year-old Sanchez -- who had just 187 Minor League games under his belt in his two years outside of the rookie leagues.
"We had a couple tough calls, and we felt that he was ready to catch up here and handle these guys," Bochy said.
Sanchez didn't start playing the position until right before he was signed by the Giants in 2006, but now has become a reliable option behind the plate, giving the Giants the luxury of playing Buster Posey at first more, or giving him days off.
Bochy said he has been impressed with Sanchez's eagerness to study and learn the practice of handling a pitching staff, especially as of late.
"He's done a much better job of that," Bochy said. "When he came up, he would drift a little bit. We'd get on him to make sure that he's doing his work. Not that he was neglecting it, but he has to understand that the most important job for him is to handle the staff. He needs to know these guys inside and out."