Marlins' Sanchez is just having fun

PORT ST. LUCIE — With two stints on the Major League roster — including late last season — Florida Marlins first base prospect Gaby Sanchez has a good idea of what it takes to stick in the big leagues.

Though players of all caliber discuss the difficulty in pinch hitting and limited time, Sanchez said he has used his down time to grow as a full-time player.

“It definitely has made me a better hitter,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez, 26, will battle Logan Morrison, 22, for the first base opening. Morrison has yet to play above Double-A, but has shown power and patience in his brief professional career. Established veteran Jorge Cantu — who is scheduled to start at third — and utility man Wes Helms also could see time at first.

Sanchez hit .238 with two home runs in 21 at-bats with Florida in 2009, after batting .289 with 16 home runs at Triple-A New Orleans. A selective hitter who earns a lot of walks, Sanchez said his time on the Marlins bench has allowed him to learn more about how major league pitchers operate.

“You’ve got to be into the game at all times sitting on the bench,” Sanchez said. “It definitely made me a smarter player seeing what the pitchers were doing. Seeing what they were trying to do and knowing when I went up there ... what kind of pitches were their out pitches, what they liked to do.”

With spring training games underway, Sanchez said he enjoys the transition of playing full time again — as opposed to his season-ending role as a pinch hitter.

“It’s definitely easier when you’re going back and getting those four at-bats a game,” Sanchez said. “Basically you’re in the rhythm of the ballgame every single pitch, every single inning.”

The Marlins have high hopes for both Sanchez and Morrison, who are both among the system’s top prospects. Morrison had eight homers and a .277 batting average at Double-A Jacksonville last season.

Sanchez said the experience he has gained over the past several years have helped him to focus more on his own performance and less on the competition he now finds himself in.

“You’re always going to try to do too much, especially when you’re trying to compete for a job,” he said. “That’s why this year, I’m changing it up.

“Instead of trying to do too much, just go out and just play, try to have a good time. Whatever happens, happens.”

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