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Notes: Sanchez fights through slump

Notes: Sanchez battles slump

PITTSBURGH -- Defending National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez is off to a slow start at the plate. He snapped an 0-for-13 streak with a single on Saturday night and was batting .220 entering Sunday's game.

Sanchez's performance is a result of some nagging injuries. He missed most of Spring Training with an injured right knee. His rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis was cut short after one game because of bad weather.

Sanchez rejoined the team on April 7 after a stint on the disabled list. But he still hasn't regained his batting stroke after suffering a wrist injury and also being sidelined because of irritation in his eye. A small piece of metal had been stuck in Sanchez's right eye.

The fact that the Pirates have played well recently has taken a little of the sting out of Sanchez's slump.

"Oh, definitely," Sanchez said. "I'm not going to lie, it's frustrating and hard when you're scuffling and trying to find yourself at the plate. But at the same time, when you're winning like this, this is what it's all about, winning is what we've been waiting for. Guys are picking me up and doing their jobs.

"Obviously, I don't feel good at the plate, but I've got to start battling," Sanchez said. "When I get guys on second and third, I've got to find a way to get them in. I've got to go up and battle and do a better job than I've been doing. I haven't been doing a good job at all. It's never easy to scuffle and not feel good at the plate, but it's a bit easier when the team is winning."

Pirates manager Jim Tracy believes that it is just a matter of time before Sanchez emerges from his slump.

"Getting into the rhythm part is the challenge," Tracy said. "That's what he's trying to do, and he will get there."

Sanchez admits he still is in a Spring Training mode with his swing.

"I think so," Sanchez said. "I think that's the main thing. Obviously, I would have liked to have gotten my Spring Training at-bats. I missed three to four weeks of at-bats. I really take pride in working on things in Spring Training, and I wasn't able to. Then I had the wrist and the eye problem, but there's no excuses. I've got to go out there and battle. There comes a point where I've just got to put it behind me and start fresh."

Sanchez shocked: Sanchez was shaken by the news that Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in an automobile crash early Sunday morning. Sanchez and Hancock had been teammates in the Red Sox's farm system.

"It's devastating," Sanchez said. "I played with Josh in a couple levels in the Minor Leagues, and even the big leagues with the Red Sox. It's just a shock. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I don't even have words to describe the feeling that I have. It's devastation. It's sad."

Nady update: Pirates right fielder Xavier Nady remains day-to-day with a strained left hamstring.

"Nady is going to get in some running before the game today," Tracy said. "He'll do some turning and angle running and stuff like that, and we'll see how he's doing."

Nady once again is available for pinch-hitting duty.

Minor matters: Class A Lynchburg center fielder Pedro Powell went 2-for-4 Saturday night as the Hillcats lost to Myrtle Beach, 7-2. Powell has reached base safely in 16 straight games. He is batting .317 (19-for-60) during the streak.

Pittsburgh's 18th-round draft selection out of Middle Georgia Community College in 2003, Powell has worked hard at hitting the ball on the ground to take advantage of his speed.

"I'm truly working on hitting ground balls as well as line-drives and hitting the gaps," Powell said. "I want to get those extra at-bats and make things happen early and often."

On deck: The Pirates begin a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs with a 7:05 p.m. ET contest on Monday at PNC Park. Left-hander Zach Duke (1-2, 6.92) will be on the hill for the Pirates. The Cubs will counter with lefty Ted Lilly (2-2, 2.18).

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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