For the first time since 2005, there wasn’t a local tie to the All-Star Game.
Hence, it’s safe to say it was a rough year for area players in the show, as many battled injuries, for playing time and just to stay at the big league level.
Freddy Sanchez (Glendale Community College, 1998) infielder, Pittsburgh Pirates: Sanchez, a two-time All-Star who won the 2006 National League batting title, battled through a series of injuries throughout the season. He struggled during the first half of the season before showing signs of his hitting form from 2006.
The 30-year-old Sanchez batted .271 (154 for 569) with nine home runs and 52 runs batted in despite dealing with a shoulder injury and several eye ailments. In 145 games played, he had 11 doubles, four triples and scored 75 runs for the Pirates, who finished 67-95 and in last place in the Central Division.
Sanchez, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in 2003, had a .213 batting average in April. He batted .258 in May and .204 in June before working with hitting coach Don Long to rectify his swing.
Sanchez batted .348 during the second half of the season, the third best mark in the league.
“He’s really concentrated on one approach in the second half,” Pittsburgh Manager John Russell told mlb.com. “He’s not swinging at as many pitches out of the zone. When he does that, he has such a great ability to put the bat to the ball. I think he made a big commitment to really stay within himself, and the numbers show.”
The second baseman continued to provide quality defense for the Pirates throughout the year. He didn’t commit an error during the final 84 games, dating back to May 29. He made just seven errors this season.
Mark Loretta (St. Francis High, 1989) second baseman, Houston Astros: Loretta, who appeared in the All-Star Game in 2004 and 2006, and the Astros fell short in their quest to make the postseason for the first time since 2005. Loretta once again showed versatility by stepping in to handle playing each infield position.