Miami's Own Sanchez Earns First Base Nod

What's at times been a dubious honor is a really big deal for a boy who grew up Marlin.

Their uniforms don't yet read "Miami," but the Fish got a little more 305 in 'em yesterday when manager Fredi Gonzalez pulled Gaby Sanchez in his office to announce the 26-year-old former catcher had won the battle for first base.

Sanchez, who was not only born in Miami but played his college ball as a Hurricane, beat out top minor league prospect Logan Morrison in a competition for the opening day start -- largely on the strength of his sweet spring swing.

Statistically, it was a no brainer. Sanchez has hit .409 this spring (compared to .244 for Morrison), to go with a .460 on-base percentage and .659 slugging percentage. Add that up, and it comes to a very nice OPS of 1.119 -- best on the club this spring among players with at least 30 at bats. 

"It's something I've worked my entire life for, to be the Opening Day starter of a baseball team and to be able to do it for a team I grew up watching," thrilled Sanchez, who attended dozens of Marlins games growing up including World Series games in 1997 and 2003, Anibal Sanchez's no-hitter in 2006, and the one in which Andres Galarraga hit the longest home run ever for Colorado.

(Hey, play your cards right, kid, and someone might just go to Jared!)

Morrison was sent down on Monday, but naturally, should he get off to a good start, Sanchez may eventually be given the ol' Marlins heave-ho in a trade. But for now, he'll bat eighth, and serve as the team's emergency third catcher so that Gonzalez can use John Baker and Ronny Paulino as pinch-hitters.

Sanchez' annointing leaves the Marlins' lineup nearly intact as the April 5 season opener at Shea draws near. There's still a matter of a final bullpen spot, a battle which involves right-handers Tim Wood and Rick VandenHurk, but, you know, it's the Marlins bullpen -- might as welll save some cash and give that job to Sanchez, too. What's that, he's never pitched? Jeffry Loria says he sounds like a steal!

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