Struggling Sanchez still shines on defense

Struggling Sanchez still shines on defense

SAN FRANCISCO -- Last road trip, Freddy Sanchez declared 2010 his worst personal season in the Major Leagues because of his hitting struggles.

The numbers back up that claim, as Sanchez's .255 average entering Thursday is well below his career average of .295. But while Sanchez has struggled at the plate, in the field, he's been as smooth as ever.

In 71 games (624 1/3 innings), Sanchez has committed zero errors -- one of only two National League second basemen to do so -- while making both the routine plays and numerous run-saving plays seemingly every night.

"What I like about what Freddy's doing is he's separating his struggles offensively with his defense and he's focused out there and made some great plays," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I'd put him up there as one of the better second basemen in the league."

Already a batting champion, Sanchez could conceivably be mentioned in the NL Gold Glove conversation at the end of the season, although missing the first 35-plus games of the season while rehabbing will hurt his chances. The 2009 and 2007 winner, Orlando Hudson, now is in the American League, but the 2008 winner, Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips, remains.

What would make any potential recognition for Sanchez's defense even more impressive is Sanchez being able to block out his offensive struggles while in the field.

"This game can beat on you a little bit when you're not getting your hits and struggling offensively, but you do have to have that ability to separate the two," Bochy said. "That's something we do preach around here is you can have a good game without getting a base hit, and Freddy's done that."