Catcher Sanchez to no longer play winter ball

Catcher Sanchez to no longer play winter ball

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Pirates have scratched plans for catching prospect Tony Sanchez to undergo a pivotal Winter League education, a possible further indication of how difficult they think it will be to retain free agent Russell Martin.

The about-face on Sanchez was attributed to the additional playing time he had received after joining the Bucs' expanded roster in September.

A month ago, general manager Neal Huntington had anticipated winter ball affording Sanchez "the extra at-bats, the extra time behind the plate. It will be a good opportunity for him to continue getting back on the right track."

Do the Bucs now just want Sanchez to rest up for the challenge awaiting him in Spring Training, to validate the faith shown in him as a first-round Draft pick in 2009? Once Martin is removed on the sixth day after the conclusion of the World Series, when by rules he will be able to negotiate with other teams, the only other catcher with big league experience on the Pirates' roster will be veteran Chris Stewart.

Stewart, 33 in February, did hit .294 last season, but he had to make only 37 starts behind the plate. Between his and Sanchez's 19 starts, the Bucs were 25-31 with them behind the plate.

Worth noting
• Team personnel are continuing the process of selecting the bench coach to succeed Jeff Banister, who has gone on to become manager of the Texas Rangers. Manager Clint Hurdle and brass are considering a lengthy list of internal candidates before even turning their attention to possible outside options.

• Daniel Cabrera, the tall righty who has been through three organizations, including briefly the Pirates, since his last Major League sighting in 2009, knocked shortstop prospect Alen Hanson out of a Dominican Winter League game on Sunday with a pitch on his right hand.

Hanson departed with a contusion, and Monday reports out of the Dominican indicated his hand has been placed in a cast, and that he could be headed to Pittsburgh for further evaluation.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.