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07/21/09 10:10 PM EST

Marlins give Sanchez long-awaited call

Promising infielder promoted to take Miller's roster spot

SAN DIEGO -- Entering Spring Training, Gaby Sanchez was a front-runner to win a roster spot, perhaps as the starter at first base.

It never panned out as the 25-year-old Miami native dealt with a bone bruise to his left knee in March. When healthy, he had his struggles, and it resulted in him opening the season at Triple-A New Orleans.

On Tuesday, Sanchez's big league opportunity emerged. The Marlins recalled him from Triple-A to fill the roster spot vacated when pitcher Andrew Miller was optioned to New Orleans.

In 2008, Sanchez was the Double-A Southern League MVP, and he was a September callup, appearing in five games and collecting three hits in eight at-bats.

For now, Sanchez's role will be off the bench.

"We'll use him as a pinch-hitter, and maybe give him a start when we can here and there," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He can play both corners, with first base being the better one. He's got the ability to be the third catcher. He's caught before."

Sanchez played mostly first base when the Triple-A season opened, but for the past month or so, he's seen a majority of his time at third. First base is his most comfortable spot, but the Marlins have Jorge Cantu at that position.

Emilio Bonifacio remains the starting third baseman, with Wes Helms being the first choice to fill in, however Sanchez could factor into the mix.

Sanchez was enjoying a solid season at New Orleans, batting .284 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs. He missed about a month because of a ligament tear in his right knee.

"As soon as I came back, they said they wanted me to play third base," Sanchez said. "I said, 'OK.' It helped the team out there, too. The first baseman down there is hitting the ball well. Being able to play different positions will help me out in the future.

"The more I started playing every single day, and getting used to it, it got a little easier. The hardest part is playing one game here, one game there. That's the difficult part."

Sanchez notes it was disappointing not to make the team out of Spring Training, but he insists he didn't put added pressure on himself.

"It's always a disappointment when you're going into something, knowing you have a chance to make the ballclub out of Spring Training, and it doesn't happen," Sanchez said. "That's part of the game. I can't just hang my head down and think about what happened in the past.

"I don't think I put any pressure on myself. I was hitting the ball well. I was hitting the ball hard, and it wasn't falling. That happens. That's part of the game."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.