San Francisco 2B Freddy Sanchez eager to return |

San Francisco 2B Freddy Sanchez eager to return

AP Baseball Writer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – San Francisco second baseman Freddy Sanchez has begun taking swings off a tee and considers himself ahead of schedule as he recovers from a procedure on his non-throwing left shoulder.

Still, Sanchez is set to begin the season on the disabled list.

“That hasn’t changed,” general manager Brian Sabean said. “The optimism is great but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. He needs to be game-ready and until he plays a game we can’t have a timetable.”

A three-time All-Star and the 2006 NL batting champion with Pittsburgh, Sanchez underwent the shoulder procedure Dec. 23. He’s also coming off left knee surgery late last season.

“I’m hitting off the tee and throwing. It’s going all right. I’m ahead of schedule, so that’s good,” Sanchez said Tuesday. “I’m ahead of where they thought I would be but we don’t have a timetable or anything like that. From where I started to where I’m at now is huge. The trainers didn’t expect me to be this far this soon. I’m not even at the 11-week mark. It’s definitely encouraging.”

Sanchez agreed to a $12 million, two-year contract with the Giants on Oct. 30. He was acquired July 29 in a trade with the Pirates but was limited to 25 games for San Francisco because of injuries.

Sanchez had an MRI exam on his shoulder before signing the new deal, but the Giants didn’t think he needed shoulder surgery.

While rehabbing from the knee surgery, Sanchez started his offseason conditioning and baseball activities. That’s when he felt serious discomfort in his shoulder.

He’s not sure when the next step will be in his rehab program.

“Going from the tee to soft toss isn’t that big of a deal but when you go from soft toss to out on the field and cage work, that’s a huge difference,” Sanchez said. “We’ll just take it one step at a time.”

Sanchez got his work in before rain arrived in the desert in the afternoon. Banged-up right fielder Nate Schierholtz also was back after he fouled a ball off his left knee during a simulated game Sunday and also fell backward and hit his head on the batting cage.

“I’m much better,” said Schierholtz, who expects to be available to play Wednesday.

New first baseman and cleanup hitter Aubrey Huff rejoined the team after a bout with food poisoning kept him away Monday.

Catcher Bengie Molina is eager for the day the Giants have their entire lineup intact – with Sanchez making clutch plays in the middle of the infield.

“The type of player he is, an All-Star, it will be amazing for our lineup,” Molina said. “I’m excited to see him for a full year once he’s back.”