MLB

Sanchez making progress in return from injury

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP)

Giants infielder Freddy Sanchez took ground balls at second base and threw to first Wednesday for the first time since he dislocated his right shoulder on June 10, a significant moment in his rehab.

Sanchez returned to the field two days after feeling some soreness in his back. He's not too worried about his short-term prognosis though. He's looking forward to being ready by opening day.

''That's the main goal,'' Sanchez said. ''I'm just anxious to get out there. Anxious is an understatement.''

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said he hopes to have Sanchez ready to play in a game by the second week of March.

''It's important the pace picks up a bit,'' Bochy said. ''It would be nice to start getting him some at-bats.''

Sanchez and catcher Buster Posey, also coming off surgery, figure to improve both the Giants' anemic offense and shoddy defense.

San Francisco ranked near the bottom in hitting (28th), runs scored (29th), home runs (22nd), and on-base percentage (29th).

''You always talk about defense up the middle,'' Bochy said. ''Every good club is strong up the middle.''

Defensively, the Giants ranked 14th in fielding percentage and errors, 26th in turning double plays, eighth in stolen bases allowed and fifth in passed balls.

The Giants overhauled their up-the-middle defense in anticipation of getting Sanchez and Posey back. Brandon Crawford, who played in 66 games last year, is slated to start the season at shortstop and Angel Pagan, acquired in a trade with the New York Mets, will begin the year in center field.

''I haven't been on a field with a team since the injury,'' Sanchez said. ''It's going to take a while to get my rhythm back batting and throwing. It's good to be out there and working with Crawford.''

Sanchez felt his back lock up on him while fielding short hops on a back field a couple of days ago, but said it feels fine now.

''I did all my stuff at both minicamps and just started throwing three or four days ago,'' Sanchez said. ''My shoulder is feeling good and I'm excited to get out there.''

Notes: RHP Tim Lincecum is scheduled to pitch an inning in Saturday's spring opener and Bochy said it was ''fair to say'' that Lincecum is on track to start opening day. ... LHPs Brian Burres and Madison Bumgarner are set to pitch in Sunday's split-squad games. RHP Matt Cain and LHP Barry Zito follow in the rotation. ... Bochy is giving the team a day off on Friday.

Tagged: Giants, Freddy Sanchez, Tim Lincecum

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