7/26/2013 11:50 P.M. ET
Gaby comes home as member of Pirates
By Joe Morgan / MLB.com
MIAMI -- For the first time in his career, Gaby Sanchez is a visitor in his hometown. After a career spent playing on diamonds in Miami, the Marlins traded the former All-Star and University of Miami star to the Pirates nearly a full year ago.
As the anniversary of that deal nears, Sanchez is back in South Florida but with a different city's name on his jersey: Pittsburgh. For Sanchez, taking in a Marlins game from the visitors' dugout is an adjustment.
"It's definitely weird," Sanchez said. "Definitely weird. I'm not going to lie about it. I'm usually making the left to go to the home dugout, and now I'm making a right to go to the visitor's side. But it's something that happens. It's baseball. It's a business.
"It's nice to be able to come in and see the security guards that you've become friends with over the past four years or whatever it was that I was here. Just talking to them and seeing how they're doing and seeing some of the players on the other side when I was walking in and talking to them. Those little things are definitely fun to still have and nice to see."
With the exception of Minor League assignments, Sanchez's baseball career never took him far from home.
He played high school baseball at Brito Miami Private School, spent his college days with the Miami Hurricanes and began his career with the Marlins as the organization's fourth-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
Aided by the comfort of home, Sanchez blossomed in Miami.
Sanchez won two Florida State championships in high school, served as a key cog in two College World Series runs with the Canes, and hit 19 homers in each of his first two years with the Marlins, earning an All-Star selection in 2011.
"I was very fortunate," said Sanchez, who was expected to have 25 family members in attendance Friday in a box provided by the Marlins. "Not too many guys have the opportunity to do that. I was fortunate enough where I was able to get drafted by the Marlins and play for a team that I watched growing up. Those kinds of things you can never take away.
"The Marlins, I've got nothing bad to say about them, because the opportunity they gave me when I was able to play in the big leagues and fulfill my goal of even playing with the Marlins, so that part of it was great."
However, 2012 brought Sanchez's career to a grinding halt. He struggled at the plate, batting .202 (37-for-183) with only three home runs in 55 games.
Sanchez was twice demoted to Triple-A New Orleans.
Despite his struggles last season, the Pirates liked what they saw from the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder so much that they acquired him right at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Although Sanchez has hit only .238 (72-for-302) with 11 home runs in 355 plate appearances with Pittsburgh, he is a valuable asset to the playoff contender's lineup.
Sanchez is tied with catcher Russell Martin for second among Pirates players with a .353 on-base percentage, trailing only the .372 clip sported by All-Star Andrew McCutchen.
Nearing the anniversary of his trade, Sanchez may be more than 1,000 miles away from Miami, but he has found a new home with Pittsburgh.
"It was an easy transition for me," Sanchez said. "From the first day I got here, I felt like I was part of the family already. That made it easier for me transitioning over. I already knew most of the players from the simple fact of playing against them, but really getting to know, really getting to see how they are, it's been a lot of fun."
Grilli's forearm requires rest, not surgery
MIAMI -- All-Star closer Jason Grilli will not require surgery to repair a flexor strain in his right arm, the Pirates announced on Friday. After meeting with team doctors and Dr. James Andrews, Grilli will rest to treat the injury.
Grilli will be re-evaluated in the next 10-14 days to determine when he will be ready to begin a throwing program. Although there is no timetable for his return, flexor strains typically sideline pitchers for between four and eight weeks.
The 36-year-old right-hander, who is tied for the National League lead with 30 saves, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday after experiencing forearm tightness in the ninth inning of Monday's 6-5 win over the Nationals.
"I'm happy for him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of hearing Grilli will not need surgery. "I'm happy for us. It's out of our hands. Once it happened, whatever's done is done. It just takes time to find out exactly what you're dealing with.
"I'm more relieved for him. Obviously, our team's going to be happy because there's a chance we can get him back. There's a chance we can get him back still with a lot of games left on the docket."
Grilli's familiarity with the team doctors and Dr. Andrews, who performed Tommy John surgery on Grilli in 2002, was key to what Hurdle described as "the proper steps" in regard to evaluating the injury.
"He wanted to make sure that he was able to reach out and get looked at by the people he felt comfortable seeing and needed to see -- for him to gather all of the information he felt he could to make the most sense of it," Hurdle said.
"I think he's in a comfortable place now, as far as knowing what he's going to deal with -- the rehab process ... the steps he'll be taking moving forward."
Right-hander Mark Melancon will fill in for Grilli, who has a 2.34 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings. Melancon is 2-1 with a 0.93 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP in 48 1/3 innings.
Although right-hander Bryan Morris (2.91 ERA in 43 1/3 innings) and left-hander Justin Wilson (2.18 ERA in 53 2/3 innings) earned late-inning opportunities against the Nationals this week, Hurdle is setting nothing in stone behind Melancon.
"We'll see how the game plays," Hurdle said. "It could be more of a committee setup, whether it's matchups or history, a combination of the two, or who's hot. Maybe somebody will grab the ball and run. I imagine we'll continue to use the guys collectively."
Martin has 'hitch' in knee, but expects to be fine
MIAMI -- Russell Martin left Friday night's 2-0 loss to the Marlins with what Pirates manager Clint Hurdle described as a "hitch" in the catcher's left knee. Martin was banged up while tagging Jeff Mathis on a collision at home plate during the second inning.
"I might have tweaked it a little bit with Mathis running into me," Martin said. "But I don't have a severe injury that's going to put me on the disabled list or anything. The doctor checked it out, and he said it's really nothing extravagant."
While Martin expects to sit out Saturday night's game to give his knee a break, he believes he will be back in the lineup Sunday. The catcher even expressed a willingness to play on Saturday if needed.
"I've actually had something like this before, and I've played with it in the past," Martin said. "It's a little uncomfortable, but it doesn't keep me from doing anything physical. I can run. I can jump. I can do whatever."
Tabata takes time off after being hit on forearm
MIAMI -- The Pirates are giving Jose Tabata a couple of days off after he was hit by a pitch on the right forearm Wednesday. Manager Clint Hurdle said Tabata will work on making extended throws so he can return to playing in the field.
"He actually went and tried to throw [before Thursday's game]," Hurdle said. "I anticipate him being able to throw before the week runs out -- throw meaningfully from the outfield."
While the injury also causes Tabata pain when he grips a bat, he entered the ninth inning of Thursday's game in Washinton as a pinch-hitter and struck out. He wore an air splint on his right forearm during the at-bat.
Despite Tabata's strikeout, Hurdle was encouraged by the 24-year-old's performance.
"I thought he made a pretty good stride [Thursday], getting enough flexibility back and enough strength back to swing the bat," Hurdle said. "He took some aggressive swings early. He took batting practice."
Tabata is batting .272 with two home runs, 12 RBIs, 15 runs scored and a .340 on-base percentage in 153 plate appearances.
• Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez went through two sets of 70 flat-ground tosses from a distance of 80-90 feet on Friday. Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since June 11 (retroactive to June 6) with left forearm tightness.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.