- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007

From combined dispatches

BRADENTON, Fla. — National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez may begin this season in the same place he was on Opening Day last year: on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ bench.

Sanchez, out since March 6 with a sprained ligament in his right knee, isn’t ready to play, and the Pirates are weighing whether he should go on the disabled list, even if it is for only a week.

“I don’t know,” Sanchez said yesterday. “There’s no timetable, none at all. We have to wait and see what happens. We have to see where we’re at and what we’re going to do.”

Sanchez is hitting, fielding ground balls and running straight ahead but can’t run the bases at full speed. Until he can, Sanchez won’t get the at-bats he needs to prepare for the season.

The injury, which happened as Sanchez turned a double play at second base in an exhibition game against the Phillies, has lingered much longer than the Pirates and Sanchez thought it would and has forced him to miss nearly three weeks of game action.

Ladies love Markakis

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Nick Markakis can’t pretend he doesn’t hear the screams from the young girls at Camden Yards. The shrieks begin during warmups, follow him to right field during the game and resume when he drives his car out of the parking lot.

“That’s just part of the job, part of being a professional athlete. You’re going to get the attention,” said Markakis, who batted .291 with 16 homers last year as a rookie with the Baltimore Orioles. “It doesn’t make you uncomfortable; it’s a good feeling.”

Markakis occasionally will respond with a wave or a smile, but there’s nothing he can do to make it stop.

“You try not to get caught up in it too much,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t help it.

Want more Nats? Check out Nats Home Plate.

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