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04/13/08 1:21 PM ET

Slumping Sanchez gets a rest

Rivas makes start at second base in finale vs. Reds

PITTSBURGH -- As planned, Pirates manager John Russell gave second baseman Freddy Sanchez the day off in the Sunday afternoon game against the Cincinnati Reds.

Luis Rivas got the start at second base in Sanchez's place. Rivas, who is primarily a second baseman, has been pressed into action a lot at shortstop in place of Jack Wilson, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf muscle.

Rivas is hitting .241 with two RBIs. He has had a rough time at shortstop, where he has committed four errors in five starts.

Sanchez has been bothered by a sore throwing shoulder and has gotten off to a slow start at the plate. Entering action on Sunday, he was batting .200 with three RBIs and had gone 2-for-11 at the plate in his previous three games after snapping an 0-for-16 streak Thursday night.

"He's just pressing a little bit," Russell said. "We're not going to run guys into the ground, especially early. Freddy will get his days off here and there which will help him regroup a little bit. He's a respected hitter at the plate and he'll come out of it. We're not worried at all about Freddy Sanchez."

Russell felt the time was right to give Sanchez a breather.

"It was one thing that we had talked about with Freddy a couple days ago," Russell explained. "We're not going to continue to run him out there every day. It gives him time to let his shoulder calm down a little bit. Each day he's feeling a little better -- some days are better than others. We'll kind of monitor it and give him some time off.

"It's a cold day and a day game after a night game, and Freddy has gone pretty hard lately. I thought it was just a nice time to give him a day off [Sunday], especially with the long flight [to Los Angeles on Sunday] and travel. It's a good day to give him a day off."

The Pirates also made a late change to the lineup Sunday, giving first baseman Adam LaRoche the day off. LaRoche is battling a bad cold and Russell decided to give veteran Doug Mientkiewicz the start at first base. Mientkiewicz made his first career start at third base on Saturday night.

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