Sanchez's shoulder 'worse' after game

Sanchez's shoulder 'worse' after Bucs loss

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Second baseman Freddy Sanchez made his second start in the field on Friday, but the news afterward was not at all encouraging when it came to the status of his ailing right shoulder.

"It was worse than two days ago," Sanchez tersely said.

The visibly frustrated Sanchez stood in the McKechnie Field clubhouse expressing great concern over what could be considered a setback in the second baseman's recovery from the right shoulder surgery he had last September.

It's been well noted that the recovery process has been lagging and much longer than anticipated for Sanchez. But after Sanchez's report on Friday, any encouragement that was to be had by his ability to at least return to the field seemed inconsequential.

There was nothing to be encouraged about here.

"I'm very concerned now," said Sanchez, whose played second for the first time in Spring Training on Wednesday. "I was hoping after the first day that this day would be easier and that I would be able to work through it a little better. But that it kind of seemed like it was worse, kind of gets me concerned. Even if it was just a little better than a couple days ago, it'd be a different story."

The difference between Sanchez's prognoses in the last 48 hours was more than enough reason for concern.

After playing five innings on Wednesday, Sanchez described discomfort -- not pain -- in his shoulder. On Friday, he called it not discomfort, but pain. Simply throwing balls around the infield, Sanchez said, was painful.

In between the two outings, Sanchez had taken Thursday off from throwing.

Friday's dim developments came after the second baseman did not even have to make a defensive throw in his six innings in the field against the Reds on Friday.

"Just throwing the ball around a little bit didn't feel right," Sanchez said.

However, with the hope of being ready for Opening Day -- something that seems to be in question now -- Sanchez did not ask to be removed from the game before playing the six innings that he had been scheduled to play.

"I wanted to play through it and see what happened once I got a real ground ball hit to me -- which never happened," Sanchez said. "I don't know if that's good or bad. I wanted to see how I would react on it."

Sanchez's postgame comments were in contrast to those from manager John Russell, who said in his meeting with the media that Sanchez would be back in the lineup on Saturday.

"As of now, barring setbacks, which I don't foresee, he'll play tomorrow," Russell said. "Each day, he's feeling better. He seems to be making a lot of progress."

Russell's intentions were to play Sanchez two consecutive days before giving the second baseman a day off. From there, the hope would be that Sanchez would be physically able to play three straight games before taking another day to rest.

Sanchez expressed doubt, however, when asked if he'd be physically ready to take the field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday.

"If you were to ask me now, I'd have to say no," Sanchez said. "I don't feel like I could. I'm giving it all I have out there. It just doesn't feel right, so we're going to re-evaluate it in the morning before we make a decision."

Back last September, the Pirates reported that the minor arthroscopic surgery on Sanchez's AC joint would keep him down for six to eight weeks, after which he could resume a close-to-normal offseason workout plan. At the time, doctors told Sanchez that he could be expected to be at full strength at the open of Spring Training.

Though the recovery process has obviously taken longer than anticipated, Sanchez said that as far as he is aware of, there are not any new structural problems in his shoulder. However, he didn't discount the fact that there could be something else wrong. And he also stressed the urgency of figuring out what is causing the delays in his recovery and the worsening pain in his shoulder

"I'm just to the point where I want this to go away," Sanchez said. "It's not cooperating. Hopefully, we'll find out what's going on.

"It's obviously very frustrating," he repeated again. "I'm getting concerned."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.