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Sanchez's Time Finally Comes

July 12, 2006|Tim Brown

PITTSBURGH — Year after year, season after season, Freddy Sanchez kept showing up, kept hitting, kept hoping.

He'd play a little shortstop, a little third base, a little second. Always, it seemed, there was someone else ahead of him.

Then came 2006. The Pirates had signed Joe Randa to play third base, but Randa sustained a stress fracture in his right foot near the end of April, and Sanchez stood in, batting .360 in May and .380 in June.

On Tuesday night, he stood on the third base line, shoulder to shoulder with the other National League All-Stars. When he was introduced, the crowd gave him a prolonged standing ovation.

"It was just getting the opportunity," Sanchez said. "Getting a chance to play, and being surrounded by family and good friends."

It began in Burbank, in the house across the street from Burbank High, the son of Fred and Michelle Sanchez. He was born with a club foot, and into a life of casts and therapy and a struggle to put one foot in front of the other.

"I don't really think of it," Freddy said, "because I didn't know any better when I was younger. I didn't know about any limitations. My parents didn't treat me any different than anybody else."

Sanchez, 28, arrived at the halfway point of his fullest first season batting .3581, second in the National League to Nomar Garciaparra's .3582. Two L.A. guys, they played together briefly in Boston.

"He's an awesome person, an awesome player," Garciaparra said of Sanchez, who went 0 for 2 in the game. "I love seeing him here. He's humble and a phenomenal person to be around."

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