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Alex Sanchez through the eyes of CBSsportsline

Marlins2003

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Sanchez puts history behind in comeback with Marlins

March 4, 2007
By Scott Miller
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer

JUPITER, Fla. -- He is a walking, talking trivia question, straight out of Jeopardy! or something, lodged smack in the middle of the Florida Marlins clubhouse.

Who was the Beatles' drummer before Ringo Starr? (Pete Best.)

Who was the only man to serve as vice president and president of the U.S. who was never elected to either office? (Gerald Ford.)

Who was the first big leaguer publicly identified for failing baseball's tougher anti-steroid rules in 2005? (Alex Sanchez .)

It is 8:30 in the morning on a steamy South Florida day, and Sanchez is already dressed, in the batting cage and sweating. He's here early every day. This time, he's working on his bunting.

From where he was sitting last August -- home in Miami after opting out of his Cincinnati contract midseason when the Reds didn't call him up to the big leagues -- this is pretty good.

Better than pretty good.

"This is beautiful," Sanchez says, beaming. "Beautiful."

He is here as a non-roster player. No guarantees. He has not played a game in the majors since 2005, shortly after the positive test threatened to blow up his career. For Sanchez, this is far from a trivial pursuit.

He has seen the end of his career, and it looks a whole lot like the second half of last season, which he spent at home, working out with his agent.

Few stories are more touching and heartwarming than those involving fresh starts and big dreams. But the problem with new starts is that the line first traces backward, not forward, and backward isn't a place where Sanchez really wants to go.

He is a warm man with a warmer smile. But the subject of his steroid suspension quickly brings in the clouds.

"You know, right now, I forgot all kinds of things about that," Sanchez says. "I don't want to talk nothing about it. "I'm working hard. I'm playing hard."

A once serviceable major leaguer -- he hit .289 with Milwaukee in 2002, and .302 in 79 games in Detroit in 2004 -- Sanchez sure seems to be in the right place at the right time.

Since the Marlins traded Juan Pierre to the Cubs following the 2005 season, they've entered Black Hole territory in center field. They have three candidates right now -- minimum -- and it might take new manager Fredi Gonzalez until the end of camp to sort this one out.

As far as offensive numbers go, Reggie Abercrombie (.212, five homers, 111 games) was so below par last summer that you could have teamed him with Fitch, added up both of their numbers, and the Marlins' center field stats still would be nowhere near respectable.

Eric Reed? Have-glove-will-travel kind of guy who hit .098 in 42 games last season.

And Sanchez. Time was, he led the American League with 29 bunt singles (2004, Detroit), ranked third with 37 infield hits and carved out a small-ball niche for himself in the big and beefy AL.

Which was why it could not have been more stunning on that April day in '05 when Sanchez, who had been scooped up off of waivers by Tampa Bay, was fingered for his failed steroids test.

That guy?

At the time, he said he was going to fight it because he had "never taken steroids or anything like that." In other words, he used the same defense just about everybody else who has ever tested positive has used.

Then he pretty much disappeared.

What's interesting now is that those early denials have given way to new-start talk and avoidance of the other topic. Gee, what a coincidence.

Have any of his new teammates asked him about his failed steroids test?

"No," he says, politely. "I don't want to talk about it. I want to play baseball right now."

Re-emerging from Trivia Island is more difficult than you might think.

After he served his suspension in '05, the Devil Rays designated him for assignment on June 13 despite the fact that he was hitting .346. San Francisco picked him up, but he played only 19 games for the Giants before parting ways with them later that year.

Then came '06, another chance with another organization, assignments in Triple-A Louisville and Double-A Chattanooga ... and then, out of patience, he asked the Reds for his walking papers.

Does he think he was blackballed for a time after testing positive?

"I don't know," Sanchez says. "I don't know. The best thing now is this opportunity.

"I want to say thank to the beautiful people here for giving me this opportunity. I'm going to work hard and try to make this team."

From a distance, it's easy to demonize the steroid crowd. As sometimes happens, in person, when you attach a face with the name, it is not completely black and white. Sanchez is a very likable man, and it doesn't appear to be just for show in a morning interview.

"Great guy," Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis says. "You can already tell that he's a great clubhouse guy. He's always here early getting his work in."

"Seems like a good guy, a real good guy," says right fielder Jeremy Hermida, who is dressing one locker over from Sanchez this spring. "Always has a smile on his face. Looks like he's having fun. Goes out and plays hard."

Sanchez's taboo subject mostly has remained just that this spring.

"I'm not going to bring that up," Willis says. "That's neither here nor there with me. It happens. I'm sure he paid his dues, and now he's here.

"I'm not even going to bring that up. I'm happy he's here working hard to try and help the club."

It's still too early in the spring to get a firm line on whether Sanchez is chasing a dream or simply the illusion of one here under the hot sun. Reading between the lines, it's pretty clear the Marlins are hoping that the fleet Abercrombie figures out a way to hit.

Then, the decision likely will be pretty clear.

"I still think he has," a high ceiling, Gonzalez says. "He can hit for power. He's got juice off the bat. You see the speed, the defense. Hitting for average, that will come."

Just in case, though, the manager also says he will spot Cody Ross and Joe Borchard into some games at center field this spring as well.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for any of the candidates.

Though Sanchez hasn't played in the majors since '05, he figures he's ready to go now because, among other things, he played three months of winter ball -- two in Venezuela, one in Mexico.

At least, he hopes he's ready to go. Because there were times, particularly when he was sitting home last summer, that he was afraid that an opportunity like this might never again find him.

"Sometimes," he says. "Sometimes. I've got my mind positive every time, but sometimes when you have a situation like this, you're thinking too much.

"What I think all the time is, 'I want another opportunity. I want another opportunity.'"

http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/story/10038133
 

Hotcorner

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Just in case, though, the manager also says he will spot Cody Ross and Joe Borchard into some games at center field this spring as well.
:thumbup



hey best of luck to Sanchez though, maybe he'll surprise everyone.
 

canada-marlin24

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i would love for sanchez to start.. he has all the tools and already is known for his high average. if not him then i vote for cody ross
 

Ramp

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Just in case, though, the manager also says he will spot Cody Ross and Joe Borchard into some games at center field this spring as well.
:thumbup
:thumbup :thumbup :thumbup
 

TSwift25

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If Borchard is given a fair shake, I expect/hope him to come away with the job.

However, if Sanchez proves himself I'd have no problem rooting for him.
 

The_Godfather

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Sanchez puts history behind in comeback with Marlins

March 4, 2007
By Scott Miller
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer


"I still think he has," a high ceiling, Gonzalez says. "He can hit for power. He's got juice off the bat. You see the speed, the defense. Hitting for average, that will come."


Bad choice of words, Freddi.
 

Geek_Squad

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If Borchard is given a fair shake, I expect/hope him to come away with the job.

However, if Sanchez proves himself I'd have no problem rooting for him.


Not as indepth with former Sox as I am with former Cubs, but from Sox fans I have talked to, they have pretty much all agreed, in concensus, that Joe Borchard completely sucks at everything baseball related. Wondering why you expect him to come away with a job? Not saying he cant, just that I have never heard him cast in a favorable light. Or, is your CF hole just that bad?
 

TSwift25

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If Borchard is given a fair shake, I expect/hope him to come away with the job.

However, if Sanchez proves himself I'd have no problem rooting for him.


Not as indepth with former Sox as I am with former Cubs, but from Sox fans I have talked to, they have pretty much all agreed, in concensus, that Joe Borchard completely sucks at everything baseball related. Wondering why you expect him to come away with a job? Not saying he cant, just that I have never heard him cast in a favorable light. Or, is your CF hole just that bad?

Well, I'm high on his ability to be a capable 7 hole hitter even if he's simply a platoon player.

Secondly, our bottom third of the lineup is that bad and our centerfield situation is that much worse.
 

Ramp

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If Borchard is given a fair shake, I expect/hope him to come away with the job.

However, if Sanchez proves himself I'd have no problem rooting for him.


Not as indepth with former Sox as I am with former Cubs, but from Sox fans I have talked to, they have pretty much all agreed, in concensus, that Joe Borchard completely sucks at everything baseball related. Wondering why you expect him to come away with a job? Not saying he cant, just that I have never heard him cast in a favorable light. Or, is your CF hole just that bad?
Well he absolutely sucked with the White Sox, what do you expect?

Anyway, I hope Borch is given a fair shot at CF, and I think he wins the job too
 

Geek_Squad

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Heard alot about Hermida, but the other two, well, that is not promising.
 

Ramp

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Heard alot about Hermida, but the other two, well, that is not promising.
luckily our 1-6 is pretty darn good, and Olivo at catcher aint too shabby
 

vinivedivichi

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As far as offensive numbers go, Reggie Abercrombie (.212, five homers, 111 games) was so below par last summer that you could have teamed him with Fitch, added up both of their numbers, and the Marlins' center field stats still would be nowhere near respectable.

Is this the lamest attempt at a joke ever? It also makes zero sense. Nice.
 

Geek_Squad

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Some of my Sox friends were sad to see Olivo go. Although mostly their opinions on him werent to high either.
 

latergator

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All you guys are not giving Ross his due. You have not seen his speed. He is fast. He has the best arm in the outfield. He slumped the end of last year which brought his batting average down. I would go with Ross over Borchard over Reed over Abercrombie. Ross would have hit 20-30 home runs if given the bats. Its between Sanchez and Ross.
 

BroncoBob27

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De Aza has been turning some heads. I don't know how close he is but I have read a couple good articles on him.
 

Marlins2003

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Sanchez puts history behind in comeback with Marlins

March 4, 2007
By Scott Miller
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer


"I still think he has," a high ceiling, Gonzalez says. "He can hit for power. He's got juice off the bat. You see the speed, the defense. Hitting for average, that will come."


Bad choice of words, Freddi.

I assume this is a joke? You realize he was referring to Reggie.
 

Shamrock

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an outfield of Hammer, Borchard, and Hermida could be the worst defensive outfield in the league and at least bottom 5
 

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