By: Jim ColonyBy Jim Colony

BRADENTON, Fla. (KDKA) – After two straight 19 home run seasons with the Marlins, and representing the team in the 2011 All-Star Game, Gaby Sanchez had off-season knee surgery and never fully recovered.

In fact, he struggled to the point that the Marlins brought in Carlos Lee and sent Sanchez to the minors before trading him to the Pirates.

Things went only slightly better in Pittsburgh where Sanchez hit .250 with four home runs and 13 RBI with an OPS of .720 in 50 games. But, Sanchez did finally start feeling stronger so he was able to put himself through a vigorous off-season workout which has led to fast start in Bradenton.

“I feel good,” Sanchez says. “Lower half, everything feels good.”

Sanchez has also played more than the starters and other veterans who basically have roster spots locked up and he’s making the most of it.

“Absolutely, being able to get out there playing, get the rhythm going, being able to play on almost a daily basis, it’s definitely beneficial,” says Sanchez.

Sanchez is expected to platoon with Garrett Jones at first base and play mostly against left-handed starting pitchers, but this spring has also been working at third, which has helped him get more at-bats, but is also a position he hasn’t played since he was in Triple-A four years ago.

“Just getting there, getting my feet wet,” Sanchez says. “The ball comes off the bat a lot differently (at third), so it’s a matter of getting used to that and getting repetitions over there.”

Sanchez credits coach Nick Leyva and veteran Brandon Inge with helping him get re-acclimated at third base.

Listen to the interview here:

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