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Sanchez returns to majors

Jeff Tully

It’s hard to keep a good man down.

And in the case of baseball player Freddy Sanchez, it was hard for

the Boston Red Sox to keep the sure-handed player in the minor

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leagues this season.

On Friday, the former Burbank High and Glendale Community College

standout was called up from triple A Pawtucket to join the Red Sox

in Toronto for a three-game series with the Blue Jays.

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“We are really excited for him, and I know Freddy was really

hoping to get a chance to play with the Boston club,” said Michelle

Sanchez, Freddy’s mom. “We knew he was probably going to get called

up in September, but to be called up this early is great.”

Sanchez, 25 -- who plays second base and shortstop -- got the

call-up following a trade the Red Sox made late Thursday. Boston

traded third baseman Shea Hillenbrand to the Arizona Diamondbacks for

right-handed pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim.

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He gets the opportunity to shine on the big-league stage after

tearing it up this season for Pawtucket. He was leading the team with

a .391 average (61 for 156), had 61 hits, 23 runs batted in, 14

doubles, five home runs and 26 walks in 41 games.

Sanchez might have gotten a hint that something was in the works

Thursday, when he had a rare start at third base for Pawtucket in a

6-5 win against the Norfolk Tides.

“People from the Boston front office called Pawtucket and said

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they wanted Freddy to play third base in the game Thursday,” Michelle

Sanchez said. “That was kind of strange because he never plays third

base. In fact, we can’t even remember the last time he played at

third.”

Freddy Sanchez performed well at third base and didn’t commit an

error.

“After the game, we talked to Freddy and we asked him ‘Why in the

world he was playing third?’ And he told us that that’s what the

front office wanted.

“Then, only about an hour and a half later, Freddy called us

again. This time he told us that they called him in and told him to

pack his bags that he was being called up and he was going to meet

the team in Toronto.”

This is Sanchez’s second trip to the major leagues. On Sept. 1,

Boston called him up and he spent the last month with the club. With

the Red Sox, he played in 12 games, had 16 at-bats, three hits,

scored three runs and had two runs batted in for a .188 average.

After making the big club in 2002, Sanchez went to spring training

this year hoping to make the Red Sox’s opening-day roster. However,

he was informed by club officials they intended to keep him in the

minors for another year of seasoning.

Sanchez said he wasn’t up set at the organization’s decision.

“I’m not mad that I wasn’t brought up [right away], Sanchez said

before the season.

“The Red Sox told me that they had plans for me for the future.

But I know I just have to be patient and wait my turn.”

The former Bulldog star joined a Red Sox team that, despite

injuries, is just a half-game behind the New York Yankees in the

American League East Division.

Sanchez didn’t play in a 13-2 loss Friday to host Toronto.

Sanchez had a break-out minor-league season in 2002 before making

it to the major leagues.

He led the organization’s minor-league players with a .318 batting

average (157 for 494) and had 24 stolen bases, splitting time between

Pawtucket and double-A Trenton.

Sanchez was honored as the Red Sox organization’s Minor League

Player of the Year. It was the second-straight year he earned the

distinction, as he received the honor in 2001 playing for Trenton and

single-A Sarasota.

In Trenton last season, Sanchez batted .328 with three home runs

and 38 runs batted in. He also enjoyed a 27-game hitting streak from

May 15 to June 24 and reached base in 43 straight games.

Sanchez began his success at Burbank, where in 1996 he was named

the Foothill League Player of the Year.

He was selected in the first-year player draft the same year by

the Atlanta Braves in the 30th round. However, instead of singing a

contract, Sanchez decided to attend GCC.

After redshirting for the Vaqueros in 1997, he helped lead the

team to a share of the Western State Conference title and was named

WSC Southern Division Player of the Year in 1998, batting .407 with

10 home runs and 33 RBI.

After playing for two other colleges, Sanchez was drafted in 2000

in the 11th round by Boston.


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