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Sanchez has fond memories of Pittsburgh

Sanchez has fond memories of Pittsburgh

SAN FRANCISCO -- Freddy Sanchez always envisioned himself retiring as a Pittsburgh Pirate.

In that vision, Sanchez, a second baseman, and shortstop Jack Wilson -- friends since their high school baseball days -- would play their entire careers together, perhaps even becoming this generation's Bill Mazeroski and Dick Groat.

On July 29, 2009, that dream went up in smoke. Wilson was traded to Seattle and, shortly thereafter on the same day, Sanchez was shipped to San Francisco.

It's been 10 months since Sanchez left the franchise he spent five-plus seasons with but, as he and the Giants travel to Pittsburgh for a three-game series this weekend, Sanchez said he has no hard feelings against his former club.

"No, not at all. The way the organization, top to bottom, treated my family and I was spectacular; I loved every minute there," Sanchez said. "It stings a little bit, just the fact that obviously at the time that's where I wanted to retire ... and it just didn't happen, for whatever reason."

Sanchez said he still keeps in touch with some of the players, such as catcher Ryan Doumit and pitchers Zach Duke and Paul Maholm, and he and Wilson still remain close.

Although Sanchez still calls Pittsburgh fans the best in the country, forgive him, Giants fans, because he hasn't exactly been around AT&T Park that often.

After playing in only 25 games last year -- having his season end prematurely due to a partially torn meniscus -- Sanchez was kept out of this season's lineup until May 19 with a surgically repaired left shoulder.

Since then, Sanchez -- a .302 hitter in Pittsburgh and 2006 National League batting champion -- has been the hitter many expected, entering Wednesday hitting .326 with an on-base percentage of .407 in 13 games, providing a spark for the Giants in the No. 2 hole and also playing solid defense at second base.

Despite those numbers, Sanchez said he still is "trying to get [his] legs" after spending almost nine months with no weight training or baseball activity and said Wednesday he doesn't consider himself to be at 100 percent.

"I'm hoping within the next couple weeks I can feel back to 100 percent, where my timing's on, rhythm's on, my feel for the game is there and I'm going out there doing the best I can," Sanchez said. "Hopefully I can get locked in here soon."

Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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