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Trio takes aim at new opportunities

With the start of a new season days away, local major leaguers will try to build on last year's success and set a new path for the future, while trying to lead their respective teams all the way.

March 27, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • Brandon McCarthy is competing for the fifth spot in the Oakland A's rotation in spring training.
Brandon McCarthy is competing for the fifth spot in the… (Glendale News Press )

GLENDALE — For the second time in as many years, a veteran major leaguer with local ties has retired. Just as St. Francis High graduate Mark Loretta hung up his cleats before the 2010 season, Loretta's former high school teammate and Glendale resident Gregg Zaun called it a career in early March after 16 years in the big leagues.

As Opening Day approaches on Thursday, the number of area products set to occupy major league rosters has dwindled to its lowest number in years.

Crescenta Valley High product Trevor Bell figures to be back up with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sooner than later, but will begin the season in the minor leagues and Glendale Community College product Marco Estrada has an outside shot at cracking the Milwaukee Brewers' Opening Day roster after impressing as an invitee from minor league camp.

But as it currently stands, the area will be represented by a trio of players — one looking to build on a resurgent year, another looking to make a comeback and one looking to defend the biggest prize in the game.

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SANCHEZ SET FOR

TITLE DEFENSE

It might not have been evident in his solid overall statistics or the valuable role he played in helping the San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers to capture their first World Series title since 1954, but Freddy Sanchez was far from full strength last year.

Dealing with the residual effects of preseason left-shoulder surgery, which caused him to miss the first 38 games of the 2010 campaign, Sanchez told mlb.com that last year his left arm wasn't strong enough to bench press a five-pound dumbbell.

It's a different story this spring for the Burbank High graduate and former Glendale college standout, who last year became the first area player to compete in a World Series since Zaun did so with the Florida Marlins in 1997.

Despite an arthroscopic procedure on his shoulder in December, the ninth-year man was healthy enough to make his spring debut on time on Feb. 24 and has posted a .269 (11 for 49) batting average with two home runs, seven runs batted in and five extra-base hits in 15 games played.

Now, the key is staying healthy and staying on the field, a prospect Sanchez, who won the National League batting title in 2006, feels good about.

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