Sanchez becomes eighth No. 1 pick on Bucs
Pirates call up catcher, send right-hander Cumpton to Indianapolis
ANAHEIM -- And then there were eight -- former No. 1 Draft picks in the Pirates' clubhouse, that is, with Friday's arrival of catcher Tony Sanchez.
Sanchez, the fourth-overall selection in 2009 and the Pirates' 14th-ranked prospect, was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis before Friday night's series opener at Angel Stadium, with right-hander Brandon Cumpton being optioned back to the Indians in the corresponding move.
Sanchez made a gleeful entrance to the clubhouse that already included No. 1s Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Bryan Morris, Jason Grilli, Travis Snider and Gerrit Cole, hugging his way to his locker.
"I'm trying to be as happy as possible," he explained. "How can you not be happy walking into a clubhouse like this, being in a situation like this? It's tough for me not to enjoy what I'm doing."
That said, Sanchez's Major League baptismal has already been a series of false starts.
He was first recalled by the Pirates in mid-May, but on that occasion never left the so-called taxi squad, and returned to Indianapolis without being officially added to the roster.
Friday's recall was more official, but there was another immediate snag: The Pirates wanted his right-handed bat to DH against the lefties they will see during this stretch of Interleague games in American League parks. So Sanchez was due to make his debut start in Saturday night's game against Angels southpaw Jason Vargas -- except Vargas has just gone on the DL, and righty Jerome Williams will instead make the start.
So Sanchez may have to wait until Tuesday -- when lefty Joe Saunders is due to face the Bucs in Seattle. Of course, because the Pirates still have catcher Michael McKenry to back up Russell Martin, Sanchez can come off the bench in the interim, with manager Clint Hurdle now having at his disposal a bat that had produced a .306 average, nine homers and 35 RBIs in 55 Triple-A games.
"We looked for ways to firm up our lineup against left-handed pitching," Hurdle said. "Sanchez also allows me to have both McKenry and Martin on the field without blinking an eye."
"I'm very proud of where I am now, and how I feel at the plate and behind the plate," Sanchez said. "It's the type of confidence you want to take into a call-up like this."
A Locke for the All-Star Game?
ANAHEIM -- Competition for spots on the National League All-Star pitching staff will be intense, as usual. Perhaps a couple of facts concerning Pittsburgh lefty Jeff Locke will bend Bruce Bochy's ears as the Giants/NL manager rounds out his roster.
One, the Pirates have never had a rookie pitcher make the All-Star team. It is true that Locke is not officially a rookie, but he missed that rank entering this season by one inning -- so an All-Star selection would help remove some of the sting from that close call, since otherwise the Bucs' current ace would be a frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year Award.
Two, while there are plenty of other worthy candidates for the All-Star staff, none of them come close to this Locke distinction: In his six wins, he has allowed one run in 38 innings, an ERA of 0.24 that ridiculously would have actually gone down to 0.20 in seven wins had the 1-0 lead he'd bequeathed in Cincinnati on Wednesday held up.
Those are some crazy numbers.
"I'm made aware of those things, and they lead to some nice little accolades," Locke said, "but otherwise stuff like that doesn't do much for me. I just know that I feel good. I'm awful happy with everything that's going on -- as long as I can sustain it for these guys right here. That's my main focus."
But trotting out to the Citi Field baseline to be introduced as an All-Star ...
"Obviously that'd be such an honor," Locke said. "At the same time, my main focus will always be here. Doesn't matter how good your first half is; the team needs a whole year from you."
Bucs sign two more Draft picks
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates signed two Draft picks, eighth-rounder Neil Kozikowski and 22nd-round pick Henry Hirsch, scouting director Joe DelliCarri announced in a press release Friday. Both will report to rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League.
Kozikowski, a right-hander out of Avon Old Farms School (Conn.), committed to Virginia Commonwealth, but opted to sign with the Pirates instead. At a lanky 6-foot-4, his fastball sits in the high 80s but has reached 92.
"I think there's a lot of upside for him, he's long and lean with an easy delivery," Avon coach Rob Dowling said after Kozikowski was selected. "I've seen him hit 92 with minimal effort."
Hirsch, a righty, earned third-team All-Northeast-10 honors by finishing the season 4-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 59 innings at the University of New Haven. He had 60 strikeouts.
The Pirates have now signed 18 players from the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
First number, last word
2-14: Pirates' record, entering this series, since 2011 on the West Coast (San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco).
"We like to call it 90-10. It's still a number that grabs everyone's attention. Most people look at radar guns, and when someone hits it, you know something's happened from the reaction. And what does it mean? That they're throwing really fast." -- Hurdle, on rhe 100-mph fastball, considered to be on reserve in Cole's repertoire.
• The Monday off-day between this series and the upcoming two-day set in Seattle gives the Pirates a couple of options for Wednesday's start against the Mariners: If he is not needed to provide long relief in the games against the Angels, Jeanmar Gomez will likely come off the DL to make that start; otherwise, if Gomez has to be activated earlier, Cole will take the ball on what would be regular four days' rest.
• Outfielder Jose Tabata (strained oblique) played his first rehab game with Indianapolis on Friday, going 1-for-3 in five innings of action.
• Lefty Wandy Rodriguez (tight left forearm) is slated to make his first rehab start for the Indians on Sunday.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.