How the Pirates Will Split Playing Time Between Tony Sanchez and Elias Diaz

With the announced demotion of Tony Sanchez to Triple-A today, a new issue is created with how to get reps for both Diaz and Sanchez behind the plate.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle announced to the media today that the plan it to play each two games, and then switch to the other behind the plate.

“He needs to go down there and be a guy,” Hurdle said on Sanchez. “They’re going to figure out playing time. Neal [Huntington] and I talked about setting up a model for him to follow because we want to continue to cultivate Diaz. We want Tony to play and get reps, so that will work out.”

Hurdle said that the reason for the two on and two off program is that it is difficult to build a rhythm splitting each day. As far as the situation, the Indianapolis staff is fully prepared as well.

”We are going to try to split it up,” Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor said. “The days that they are not in there, we are going to try to get as many DH days as we can when we are playing an American League team. That is pretty much the plan right now, and then adjust from there.”

Indianapolis is wrapping up with Louisville tonight, and then play two more games against the Reds affiliate in April. Outside of that, it is all American League affiliates in May on the schedule until the end of the month, which should provide plenty of at bats and reps behind the plate for each.

As far as time at first base, Treanor said that the option has not been discussed with him and the Pirates brass. However, he doubts that as an option.

“I think that right now, catching is the priority,” Treanor said. “We have two good ones here, so unfortunately for them, we have to split the time, but we will make that up with the DH at bats.”

Treanor is also encouraged by the progress that Sanchez has made behind the plate and knows that it is from the hard work that was put in during the off-season.

“[The improvement] is encouraging to see,” Treanor said. “He spent some time with Brian Esposito, who was here with me a couple years ago. He worked with Tony and they spent some time together. He does a great job with him. I saw Tony down in the Dominican and we talked every time that we played each other. He was really happy with being there to work on some things and get better.”

Hurdle said that he wants Sanchez to always stay fresh, in the case his number is called in Pittsburgh.

“We could go to him at the snap of a finger if there was an injury here at the catching position and I do believe that the depth that we’ve been able to create here is going to pay dividends throughout the season to have those three guys,” Hurdle said.

Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.

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This may be the dumbest move ever made by the BMTIB. Sanchez should be starting and playing every day – may be the best bat on the team and they send him to Indy SMH


C’mon man. That was NOT a serious comment. You are better than that.

Scott Kliesen

Best bat on Pirates? May be the craziest comment I’ve ever read on this site.

Luke S

Yup, his bat is pretty clearly better than Cutch and Pedro and Walker. Makes sense.

Thomas F

I really can’t believe that getting Tony reps are first has not been discussed. I certainly they’ve had that conversation. Diaz is the future at C and Cervelli has performed well in the first 2 weeks for the present. And we have McGuire. There isn’t an internal option between Pedro and Bell, and I can’t see why Tony would not at least shag some grounders there. In a limited sample size he has shown a Big League bat. What would it hurt to run him out there 2-3 times a week?


If I were wanting the team, I would want him to catch splitting time to keep him fresh as a catcher as he is the #1 option in case of injury. Also if no injury occurs, somebody may well get traded in July. Either Stewart, most likely or Sanchez if something is offered that will improve the team. Diaz is not going anywhere for now.

Luke S

Why is it we need to trade someone in July if everyone is healthy? That leaves 2 months of key baseball where we could experience injury and be left with a less than optimal situation. Stewart leaves, Cervelli gets hurt and now you have Sanchez starting and either Diaz on the bench or whatever you can find. I see no reason to move any of the catchers this year, the offseason being the time to re-evaluate the position and make a move if needed. Stewart isnt going to fetch a ML piece at the deadline as is, since he is clearly a backup C (tho not a bad option) at this point.

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