Tigers cut center fielder Sanchez

Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Detroit Tigers cut center fielder Alex Sanchez because they weren't happy with his defense. The Toronto Blue Jays might have a hard time leaving Gabe Gross off the big league roster.

Sanchez was released Tuesday in a surprising move, five days after the speedy leadoff hitter was reunited with his mother for the first time in 11 years.

He has frustrated Detroit with his sloppy play in the field in the past, and did again during spring training.

''There comes a time when you shouldn't have to repeat things as many times as we did,'' manager Alan Trammell said in Lakeland, Fla.

Craig Monroe is now the front-runner for the everyday job in center, though he has mostly been a corner outfielder in the past. Nook Logan, Dewayne Wise and Alexis Gomez also are candidates.

Last week, Sanchez saw his mother for the first time since 1994.

He left Cuba on a raft 11 years ago, leaving his family behind. Last week, he reunited with his mother and brother in Miami, where he has a house with his wife and twin boys. Sanchez's mother and brother escaped from Cuba by boat and spent time in Mexico and Texas before traveling by bus to Miami.

Sanchez batted .322 last season, but his on-base percentage was just .335 because he walked only seven times. He was limited to 79 games because of leg injuries.

He stole 52 bases in 2003, splitting the season between Milwaukee and Detroit.

''He's in shock about the whole situation because he didn't expect it and I didn't see it coming,'' Sanchez's agent, Juan Iglesias, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ''Usually, these things happen before you go to arbitration and give a player a $1,375,000, one-year contract like the Tigers did with Alex this offseason.

''I think he'll get picked up on waivers because I don't think teams are going to want to risk losing a chance to get him. We'll know where he'll be playing this season by Friday.''

If a team claims Sanchez, it will have to assume his contract. If he clears waivers, Iglesias said he would have to negotiate a new deal for his client.

''The Tigers did Alex a favor by doing this now and not next month when it would be more difficult for him to join another team,'' Iglesias said.

As for the Tigers, Sanchez's departure also affects the lineup, leaving the leadoff spot open.

''This is a pretty big move,'' Trammell said. ''Our options are good, but I don't know how it's going to shake out.''

Gross is shaking out just fine with the Blue Jays. He hit his sixth homer of the spring Tuesday, when Toronto tied the Tigers 2-2 in 10 innings at Lakeland.

Gross, who will probably start the season at Triple-A Syracuse because of the Blue Jays' crowded outfield, is batting .500 with 11 RBIs.

''Coming in there isn't a spot for him right now,'' manager John Gibbons said. ''But he has everybody's attention. I will leave it at that.''

Toronto's first pick in the 2000 draft, Gross played in 44 games for the Blue Jays in 2004 and hit .209 with three homers and 16 RBIs. But now he's on his best streak in a long time.

''You'd have to go all the way back to high school or college and aluminum bats,'' Gross said. ''I've had some pretty good hitting streaks, but I don't think I've ever had this many home runs in so few at-bats.

''I don't think I'd be honest with anybody if I said I didn't want to be in the big leagues. Whether or not that happens, I don't know,'' he said. ''I'm not in the position to make that decision. I'm going to showcase everything I can about myself in the hopes that it can get me there.''

In other spring training games:

Dodgers 3, Braves 3, 10 innings

At Kissimmee, Fla., Horacio Ramirez pitched three strong innings for Atlanta, another encouraging step in his comeback from shoulder surgery.

Red Sox 6, Devil Rays 5

At St. Petersburg, Fla., Mark Bellhorn hit a pair of RBI doubles and Bronson Arroyo had a solid start for Boston, which snapped a five-game losing streak.

Twins 2, Marlins (ss) 2, 11 innings

At Jupiter, Fla., Ismael Valdez allowed two runs in three innings in his spring training debut. Valdez, projected as Florida's No. 5 starter, missed two weeks because of a virus.

Cardinals 5, Orioles 4

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Chris Carpenter pitched four shutout innings and St. Louis overcame a poor outing by closer Jason Isringhausen.

Nationals (ss) 4, Indians (ss) 3

At Viera, Fla., Livan Hernandez pitched six innings, allowing one run and three hits, and Cristian Guzman hit a two-run homer to lead Washington.

Mets 7, Indians (ss) 5

At Port St. Lucie, Fla., Carlos Beltran hit his third homer for New York and added a double. Doug Mientkiewicz had two more hits to raise his spring training average to .381. Backup catcher Ramon Castro hit a three-run shot.

Yankees 11, Marlins (ss) 5

At Tampa, Fla., Derek Jeter had three hits and four RBIs to help New York win its fourth straight. Mike Mussina allowed three runs — one earned — and six hits in four innings.

Mariners 11, Athletics 4

At Peoria, Ariz., Jamie Moyer allowed one hit in five innings for Seattle, which roughed up Barry Zito.

Rangers (ss) 1, Rockies 0, 10 innings

At Surprise, Ariz., Ricardo Rodriguez threw 4 2-3 shutout innings in his third spring start for Texas. Jason Jennings, Colorado's No. 2 starter, pitched four scoreless innings.

Cubs 6, Royals 1

At Mesa, Ariz., Corey Patterson hit a two-run single during a six-run fourth inning against reliever Chris George.

White Sox 8, Angels 5

At Tucson, Ariz., Vladimir Guerrero homered for the Los Angeles Angels but Kelvim Escobar struggled in his spring debut. Making his first appearance because of shoulder soreness, Escobar gave up three runs and six hits in two innings.

Astros 6, Nationals 5

At Kissimmee, Fla., Houston's Brandon Backe struck out six while allowing three runs in four innings. John Patterson, competing for the fifth spot in the Washington rotation, allowed seven hits and five runs in four innings.

Giants 3, Brewers (ss) 2 (7 1/2 innings)

At Scottsdale, Ariz., the lights went out when the power failed with San Francisco's Brian Dallimore leading off the bottom of the eighth inning. Auxiliary lights came on within a minute, but the stadium never regained full illumination, and the Giants won 3-2.

Earlier, the Giants' Jason Schmidt allowed his first run of the spring — a home run to Chad Moeller that snapping an eight-inning scoreless streak. Schmidt allowed two hits and struck out seven. He's given up four hits and has 11 strikeouts in 10 innings for an ERA of 0.90.

Brewers (ss) 6, Rangers (ss) 4

At Phoenix, outfielder Brad Nelson, sent to the minors earlier in the day, hit a three-run, game-tying pinch homer off Ryan Bukvich in a four-run rally in the fourth inning for the Brewers.

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