Sanchez slated for winter action in Dominican

Pirates' catcher looking to prep for larger playing role in 2015

Sanchez slated for winter action in Dominican

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Catcher Tony Sanchez, who figures prominently in the Pirates' 2015 plans behind the plate, indeed is scheduled to get in some valuable prep work in the Dominican Winter League.

Some recent miscommunication between the Bucs' Minor League department and reporters left the erroneous impression that Sanchez's Winter League plans had been aborted.

However, general manager Neal Huntington confirmed on Tuesday that Sanchez would be departing for the Dominican Republic in a couple of weeks to prepare to compete for the Pirates' catching job -- if attempts to retain free-agent veteran Russell Martin are not successful.

Anticipating Sanchez's winter league participation, Huntington in late September said the experience would afford the No. 1 pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft "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."

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.

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.