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Catcher-turned-pitcher Jesus Sanchez getting attention at Philadelphia Phillies' camp

CLEARWATER — Sitting 14 games out of first as the 2006 trade deadline approached, the Phillies sent two veterans, OF Bobby Abreu and RHP Cory Lidle, to the Yankees for LHP Matt Smith, SS C.J. Henry, RHP Carlos Mona­sterios and C Jesus Sanchez.

Elbow problems have ended Smith's career. Henry now plays basketball at Kansas. The Mets picked Monasterios in December's Rule 5 draft. And after hitting .220 in parts of three minor-league seasons, it appeared Sanchez would not pan out.

Then the Phillies made him a pitcher. And they might get something out of the trade after all.

"I couldn't hit," Sanchez said. "I was like, 'I've got to hit. I've got to hit. I'm not going to make the big leagues if I can't hit.' But I think you've got to take every opportunity in this business."

Last season, his first as a pitcher, Sanchez went 10-6 with a 3.44 ERA for Class A Lakewood. He impressed the Phillies enough that they protected him from the Rule 5 draft.

"He's opened up some eyes. He comes out every day trying to get better," assistant general manager Chuck LaMar said. "He will tell us whether he's a starting pitcher or a reliever, but he will start in 2010."

Painted Phanatic: The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. and the Phillies are sponsoring the "Phanatic Around Town" public art project. Most of the painted statues of the mascot will be in Philadelphia. But the first will be unveiled Wednesday at Bright House Field before the game against Florida State.

Jays: Romero wants ball for first game

DUNEDIN — LHP Ricky Romero wants to be Toronto's opening day starter.

But if he's going to get that honor, he will to have to convince manager Cito Gaston.

"It would definitely be an awesome, awesome experience," Romero said after Friday's workout. "Not very many guys get to do that, and it happens only once a year."

As a 24-year-old rookie last year, Romero earned the No. 4 spot in the rotation but missed 11/2 months early in the season with a pulled oblique muscle. He finished 13-9 with a 4.30 ERA over 178 innings, second on the team to ace Roy Halladay. Now with Halladay traded to Philadelphia, the opening day starter is wide open.

"One thing you have to keep in mind," Gaston said, "is that the No. 1 guy, he's always facing the best pitchers in baseball. Not to say that Ricky can't do that. But he's still young. I don't know who it's going to be. It depends on who's healthy."

Back to manage: Gaston returned a day after wife Lynda had an appendectomy.

Yankees: Race for No. 5 starter begins

TAMPA — Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, the front-runners for the Yankees' fifth starter spot, threw batting practice for the first time. But don't read too much into the schedule.

"You're competing against yourself," manager Joe Girardi said. "You're trying to make yourself better, and that's the attitude we want from all our players. I think that's the competitive nature inside of them. They're trying to throw well and open people's eyes."

Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre also are under consideration.

Jorge Posada caught Hughes and hit against Chamberlain.

"They have grown in a good way," Posada said. "You see a lot of good things. You see all the things the scouts were talking about; how they handle themselves."

Pitching schedule: CC Sabathia, the expected opening day starter, is scheduled to throw batting practice for the first time today. A.J. Burnett is set to go Monday with Andy Pettitte scheduled for Tuesday and Javier Vazquez on Wednesday.

FAST FACTS

Yankees

George Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa

Phillies

Carpenter Complex and Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Blue Jays

Englebert Complex, 1700 Solon Ave., Dunedin

Catcher-turned-pitcher Jesus Sanchez getting attention at Philadelphia Phillies' camp 02/26/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 26, 2010 11:03pm]

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