PITTSBURGH -- Freddy Sanchez had to take a cab, not his personal car, to PNC Park on Friday night. He admittedly almost walked past the visitors' clubhouse -- habit, of course. But while the second baseman may be donning different colors, arriving by different transport and sitting on the first-base line this weekend, he has come home.
"It feels great to be back," Sanchez said shortly before playing in Pittsburgh for the first time since being traded to the Giants. "I've had all my best baseball memories here. There are so many memories, so many relationships, so many friendships that we built here, that it's coming home. This is like me coming home for the first time. That feeling never fades away."
Sanchez, who was swapped for Minor League pitcher Tim Alderson at the Trade Deadline last year, spent parts of six seasons in Pittsburgh. He was an All-Star in three of them and claimed the National League batting title in 2006. Sanchez finished his Pirates career with a .301 batting average and with a particular affinity for the city.
That explains why Sanchez had his wife, Alissa, and their two children travel back to Pittsburgh with him for the weekend. They are spending Saturday at an event for the Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania, a charitable organization that Sanchez was deeply involved in during his time with the Pirates.
Sanchez has played just 14 games for San Francisco this season, as he spent the early part of the season still recovering from left shoulder surgery. He has hit safely in 11 of those 14 games, with a .327 average overall.
The second baseman is clearly excited at the prospect of participating in a playoff race later this season, something he never experienced during his time with the Pirates. That's not to say, though, that Sanchez has forgotten his time here in Pittsburgh. Rather, he's done everything he can to watch his former teammates as often as possible.
"I keep a real close eye on those guys," Sanchez said. "I wish them the best. There are a lot of friends on this team that I watch and want to do well. These fans deserve for them to do well."