Now catching for the Fresno Grizzlies: Hector Sanchez

GARY KAZANJIAN/THE FRESNO BEE
Hector Sanchez, shown here during a 2012 Triple-A rehab assignment, becomes the Fresno Grizzlies’ full-time catcher effective immediately.

If you thought Hector Sanchez was frustrated by his recent demotion to Triple-A Fresno, think again.

Sure, Sanchez would rather be in the big leagues. But he also wants to play. And the 23-year-old catcher wasn’t doing much of that with the San Francisco Giants. He had only appeared in 11 games, six of them as a pinch-hitter. He hit .150 (3 for 20) with one RBI.

Sanchez made his Fresno Grizzlies’ season debut in Monday’s 7-5 victory over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. It was his first time wearing a catcher’s mask since April 18 in Milwaukee and the first time he squatted nine innings since April 14 in Chicago.

“It’s probably the biggest reason why I’m here,” Sanchez said. “This is what I need, to play day by day and get ready. I’ll get to play every day and get my timing back.”

Sanchez caught 46 games for the Grizzlies in 2011 after jumping from Class-A San Jose. Last season, he surprised many by winning the role as Buster Posey’s backup.  Sanchez hit .280/.295/.390 for the Giants in 74 games and now proudly wears a World Series ring.

A shoulder injury limited Sanchez during spring training, leaving the Giants to break camp with three catchers: Posey, Sanchez and journeyman Guillermo Quiroz.

Playing time won’t be a problem in Fresno. Grizzlies manager Bob Mariano said Sanchez will catch five games per week during his time at Triple-A and probably hit fifth in the order. It means significantly less playing time for Jackson Williams and Johnny Monell, who have been sharing the catching duties. Tyler LaTorre is also win the team but isn’t on the active roster.

“He’ll catch three days in a row, have a day off, then catch two days in a row and have a day off,” Mariano said. “It’ll go like that. He’s going to be behind the plate a lot. It’s unfortunate for Monell and Williams. I’ll have to find them some at-bats.”

That won’t be easy. Fresno is in a stretch of 16 games against National League affiliates, which means no DH.

Sanchez is getting a quick indoctrination into the minor leagues. Following Monday’s game, the Grizzlies took a bus to Los Angeles and caught a red-eye to Nashville. The flight was scheduled to arrive at 6 a.m. local time, some 12 hours from first pitch of tonight’s game against the Nashville Sounds.

That stuff doesn’t happen in the majors.

“It’s difficult — everybody knows that — but you have to do it,” Sanchez said. “It’s your job. You’ve got to be ready for anything.”