He was back in the lineup again on Wednesday, marking the first time since last September that the second baseman has played in back-to-back games. He was never able to do so during the Pirates' Grapefruit League schedule this spring.
"Overall, it was great," said Sanchez, who is battling right shoulder inflammation. "It felt really good."
There was no easing back into position for the second baseman on Monday. In the team's 12-inning victory, Sanchez helped turn two double plays and threw out five other runners on ground-ball hits. He did so without any setbacks.
Sanchez had been limited to appearing in just two Major League Spring Training games, the last of which was 11 days before Monday's season opener. However, with the aid of some electrostatic therapy and an adjustment in his throwing motion, Sanchez has been able to find an arm slot in which now there is no discomfort.
Rather than extending his right arm up to its normal height before releasing the ball, Sanchez has been throwing the ball a little lower than normal. His release point is now at a spot that Sanchez estimated to be at three-quarters his normal extension.
"Obviously, I don't feel too comfortable with it and it doesn't feel great," said Sanchez, who would also finished Monday 3-for-4. "But I am on the field and can throw the ball and it doesn't hurt. Hopefully, maybe, as time goes on and I strengthen it and it feels better, then I get to where my normal arm slot is, or closer to it."
Sanchez said that he will continue to test his arm by throwing from his normal slot every day until his shoulder feels right again. For now, though, there is still some discomfort when he does so, suggesting that the area of inflammation causes pain only with that specific motion.
Now that he has found a comfortable alternative to his normal motion, Sanchez's task is to try and make this new arm slot feel more natural and to ensure that he can still throw the ball with his normal zip to it. Right now, Sanchez admitted, both are still a work in progress.
"I don't know if I can get as much on it as I would like, but other people say 'Yes, it looks like it comes in good,'" Sanchez said. "When I used something for so long one way, that's the one I think I get the most out of. This way, I feel like I throw it OK, but we'll see what happens."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.