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Giants' Sanchez hopes to earn more playing time

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP)

Hector Sanchez looks back on the past year fondly.

After becoming the youngest member of the San Francisco Giants' World Series roster, the 23-year-old catcher wants to show improvement.

''You have to show something better every year. Nothing's assured in baseball,'' Sanchez said. ''What is certain is that you have to work hard every day and it's their decision. I just want to make that decision easy for them and be here every day.''

As Buster Posey's backup, Sanchez got 48 starts behind the plate when the All-Star was given days off or shifted to first base. Sanchez hit .280 in 227 at-bats with three homers and 34 RBIs, catching many of Barry Zito's starts.

Sanchez also struck out 52 times - nearly a quarter of his a-bats.

''I'm taking the same approach as always, to continue to work on my defense and try to take advantage of as many opportunities I'm given,'' Sanchez said. ''It's really important for me to keep a good attitude off the field and stay in shape. If I'm given the chance to catch Barry Zito, I'd be really proud to do that.''

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sanchez, listed at 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, could be in better shape as spring training enters its second week.

''To be honest, he's got some work to do on the conditioning side,'' the manager said.

Bochy said Sanchez has the potential to gain more playing time.

''If we have a matchup that we think might be a little stronger with Hector catching, being a switch-hitter, and Buster going to first, sure. If Hector's playing well and swinging the bat well, he could force the issue,'' Bochy said. ''He's a good RBI guy and he's a good hitter from both sides.''

And Sanchez gained the confidence of the pitchers on the Giants staff.

''He seemed ahead of his years,'' Zito said. ''A lot of us were impressed with how he called a game.''

Sanchez was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in the World Series against Detroit and 1 for 11 with no RBIs in the playoffs. No matter. The Giants won their second title in three seasons.

''It was a huge accomplishment just to spend my whole first season with the team, and we were a complete team,'' he said. ''If I never manage to do anything else, I can say I got a championship.''

Notes: Hitting coach Hensley Meulens had his Netherlands coaching staff for the World Baseball Classic at Giants camp Sunday and introduced them to players on rosters from other WBC teams. Meulens is the manager for the Dutch and leaves for Taiwan on Tuesday to prepare for the first round. Assistant hitting coach Joe Lefebvre will handle many of Meulens' responsibilities until Meulens returns. ... Bochy expects his WBC players heading to Puerto Rico to leave on Feb. 27 and those in Arizona to depart on March 2 ... RHP Ramon Ramirez arrived to join the Giants for Sunday's workout after sorting out visa issues.

Tagged: Barry Zito, Giants

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