When the 2012 season ended, Gaby Sanchez gave himself only one week off. Then, he went to work.
If sweating hard and lifting weights is a luxury, it is one he couldn't afford the previous offseason as he had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a damaged patella tendon.
"Last year I couldn't lift my legs," he said. "I couldn't really do anything power-wise because I had the knee surgery, so I really didn't start working out. And when I did, it wasn't heavyweight. It was lightweight, just trying to get the leg not hurting again."
Sanchez's power numbers dived last season, when his combined OPS (on-base plus slugging) between stops in Miami and Pittsburgh was .620 -- the lowest of his career.
"I wasn't strong anywhere on my lower half," he said. "That's where I hit from -- I hit from my lower half. When that's not feeling right, nothing seems to go into place."
The Pirates acquired Sanchez at the trade deadline from the Miami Marlins. At the time, Sanchez was hitting .202. After joining the Pirates, his fortunes hadn't changed much.
He started his tenure in Pittsburgh going 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position before finally converting Sept. 2 -- more than a month after the trade.
"He played from behind last year," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He had a late-November surgery on a knee, played catch-up for most of the year. I don't think he got in real good baseball shape until about a month in with us."
Now, it appears Sanchez has his sea legs under him.
Sanchez has had one of the strongest starts of any Pirate in spring training. He is hitting .417 and crushed two home runs in a Grapefruit League game over the weekend, two no-doubters that reminded Hurdle of the success Sanchez had in Miami -- where he was fourth in rookie of the year voting in 2010 and an All-Star in 2011.


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