Bucs duo basking in All-Star glow
ASG two-timer Bay guides Sanchez through first experience
PITTSBURGH -- It has been more than a week since Pirates third baseman Freddy Sanchez was added to the National League All-Star roster, and the former utility player has been champing at the bit to get the festivities under way.
"I only had a couple of hours of sleep last night because I was tossing and turning, thinking about today," Sanchez said Monday at his All-Star press conference.
Surrounded by the All-Star media horde, Sanchez found the whole scene a bit surreal.
"This is unbelievable. It's crazy," said Sanchez. "I've never gone through anything like this before."
Fortunately for Sanchez, who is admittedly prone to bouts of hyperactivity, he's not alone on his first All-Star voyage. His cool-as-a-cucumber Pirates teammate, Jason Bay, is along for the ride to show him the ropes.
"I have to watch Jay Bay. He stays on that even keel and has that perfect demeanor," said Sanchez. "Me, I get too crazy.
"I told him just to lead the way and I'll follow him."
Bay, a two-time All-Star, has been more than happy to take Sanchez under his wing and show him the ropes.
"Freddy is one of my better friends on the team, so this makes it that much more enjoyable," said Bay. "Not that my second time on the team makes me a veteran, but seeing him experiencing it for the first time is pretty neat."
Bay, who is the first Pirates starter to be voted in as a starter since Andy Van Slyke in 1993, has become the face of the All-Star Game for the hometown Bucs. Aside from his typical duties as an All-Star, Bay is also serving along with Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski as the official spokesperson of FanFest.
"It's been a little more hectic because it is in Pittsburgh. There are a lot more local responsibilities," said Bay. "But this is a once-in-a-lifetime deal. I'll never have a chance to do anything like this again in my career."
Bay, who typically patrols the spacious left-field grounds at PNC Park, learned Monday that NL manager Phil Garner decided to put Bay in right field and have him bat cleanup during the All-Star Game.
"I'm a little surprised. I thought that I might be down a little bit lower in the order," said Bay. "I think every guy on this club could bat cleanup. It's flattering that Phil chose me." Sanchez, who was selected by Garner because of his defensive versatility, is willing to do whatever it takes to get his name on the scorecard at some point Tuesday.
"Just getting in to help this team win would be awesome," said Sanchez. "If that means getting a sac bunt down or whatever it takes, just to get onto that field would be something special."
Even if he doesn't get into the game, Sanchez said that merely having his named announced to the PNC Park crowd during the pregame ceremonies will be the biggest thrill of his career.
"I don't think this is really going to hit me until tomorrow, when my name gets announced in front of the home crowd," said Sanchez, adding that just talking about the moment was giving him chills. "To be able to play in front of the hometown crowd would be awesome."
Bay, too, is looking forward to having his moment in the spotlight with his hometown fans.
"I don't think it's really going to hit me until I get out there and tip the cap to everyone," said Bay. "You can think or dream about it all you want, but until you get out there and actually do it, it's a totally different feel."
The two teammates are particularly pleased to be sharing this once-in-a-lifetime experience with each other.
"It means a lot," said Sanchez. "He's one of my best friends on the team. It would probably be lonely to be here by myself. To have him here with me is awesome."
"The best part has been having somewhere here you relate to," said Bay. "I'm probably more thrilled for him."
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.