MLB

Sanchez hopes to be reliable backup for Posey

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP)

(Eds: Minor edits.)By DON KETCHUMAssociated Press

San Francisco's Buster Posey is already among the most accomplished catchers in baseball with a pair of World Series rings and All-Star selections, the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2010, and a batting title and NL MVP in the same season of 2012.

Yet manager Bruce Bochy has said Posey will require his days off to stay fresh, and Hector Sanchez has shown he can be a reliable backup. He plans to prove that once more this spring.

Despite coming into the Giants camp heavier and stronger and yes, even a bit quicker, Posey will again play some games at first base to give his body a break.

Like Posey, Sanchez is rejuvenated. Only instead of gaining weight, the 24-year-old dropped 20 pounds and now is at around 215.

After a 2013 season full of bumps and bruises and struggles, Sanchez decided to do something about it.

Much like his fellow Venezuelan countryman and teammate, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, Sanchez went through a winter of nutritional change and conditioning.

''People talk about Pablo, but Hector has done a great job getting ready and coming in here in playing shape,'' Bochy said.

In three different stints with the Giants last year, Sanchez played in 63 games, hitting .248 with three home runs and 19 RBIs. In between, he was in the minors or on the disabled list. He missed several weeks with inflammation in his right (throwing) shoulder that flared up during the spring of 2013.

''I feel great, 100 percent,'' Sanchez said Monday. ''To lose 20 pounds is amazing.''

Minor league athletic trainer L.J. Petra helped Sanchez during the offseason, making recommendations on how to eat healthier and suggesting how to train more efficiently. Sanchez also played in a handful of games in the Venezuelan Winter League.

''That was the key for me,'' Sanchez said. ''Last year was a bad experience. It was not fun. There were a lot of ups and downs. I played with pain in my shoulder. I did not throw for a while and the shoulder got better. Now I have my confidence back.''

Bochy acknowledged that ''it was a battle'' to keep Sanchez in shape last season.

Now Bochy is noticing ''a remarkable difference'' as Sanchez participates in throwing drills, also in the way he blocks pitches in the dirt.

''If he can continue to stay in shape, he will be able to concentrate on other parts of his game,'' Bochy said.

Sanchez enjoys working with the pitching staff and is working to learn more every day from the pitchers.

''I want to be ready for any situation, try to play hard and take advantage of every opportunity I am given,'' he said.

NOTES: Bochy was due to attend a meeting of baseball officials on Monday at nearby Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, spring home of the Diamondbacks, to discuss rules changes, including reviews and challenges by the managers. ... The team plays an intrasquad game Tuesday and opens spring play on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics at home in Scottsdale Stadium. ... Leadoff man/CF Angel Pagan is back to work after being bothered by back issues. ... 2B Marco Scutaro, who also has back troubles, will be used carefully in the early going.

Tagged: Giants, Buster Posey

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