BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez doesn't need additional shoulder surgery and should be ready by opening day despite playing little in the field during spring training.
Team doctors on Friday told Sanchez, an NL All-Star the last two seasons, that he has shoulder tendinitis - a condition that causes pain and tenderness in the joint but can be treated without surgery. Sanchez had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in late September after having discomfort much of the season, though that problem was not necessarily related to this one.
Sanchez sought a second opinion Monday from Dr. James Andrews, a Birmingham, Ala.-based orthopedist who frequently treats pro athletes. Andrews, after checking Sanchez's MRI test results and having him go through a range of exercises, confirmed the Pirates' findings of inflammation near the rotator cuff.
Sanchez will take several at-bats during a minor league exhibition game Tuesday but won't play again on defense until he can throw without pain. Sanchez has played in the field in only two exhibition games because of the ongoing shoulder pain.
The Pirates have five more exhibition games in Florida before breaking camp Saturday. If necessary, Sanchez could play in a minor league game Sunday before joining the Pirates in Atlanta for the season opener Monday.
``The examination went very well and we look forward to having Freddy in the lineup,'' Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Monday.
The Pirates won't push Sanchez to play the field before he feels he can, Huntington said, and will rely on his judgment for determining when he is ready.
``We'll play off how Freddy feels and what he thinks,'' Huntington said. ``He's a veteran guy and he knows how much time he needs to get ready.''
The injury apparently has not bothered Sanchez at the plate - traditionally a slow starter, he is hitting .364 in exhibition play with no homers and 10 RBIs in 44 at-bats.
This is the second successive spring Sanchez has spent much of camp trying to overcome a physical problem and get ready for opening day.
Last year, a knee injury sidelined him for much of March and caused him to start the season on the disabled list, although he was playing again by the Pirates' second series of the season.
That knee injury might have contributed to Sanchez's slow start. The 2006 batting champion hit .224 during the opening month of the season, but bounced back to bat .317 in May and .343 in June. Sanchez, whose .344 average in 2006 was the highest by any Pirates regular in the last 38 years, finished with a .304 average last season, plus a career-high 11 homers and 85 RBIs.
Sanchez, a longtime Red Sox farmhand who didn't reach the majors full-time until age 27 in 2005, recently signed an $11 million, two-year contract that runs through 2009. The deal allowed Sanchez to bypass arbitration. A club option for 2010 could make the deal worth $18.4 million.
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