But since August began, Sanchez’s has found his groove at the plate despite limited at-bats. On Tuesday, Sanchez replaced an ailing Daniel Murphy at second base and batted second in the lineup. He went 3 for 4 with an RBI. On Wednesday, in the Nationals’ 10-1 drubbing of the Miami Marlins, Sanchez was back at second base and again batting in the No. 2 hole. He finished 2 for 3.
The 26-year-old Venezuelan has seven hits in nine at-bats in August, bringing his average up to .313 in 18 games.
“I’ve just had a positive mind-set. I’ve just gone out and looked for my pitches,” Sanchez said in Spanish. “I’ve concentrated being aggressive at home, and it’s giving me results. These last few days I’ve worked a lot in the batting cage, so putting in the time and I think being aggressive has been the key.”
Sanchez was called up to help fill the gaps left by injuries to Trea Turner and Stephen Drew, which forced the Nationals to utilize bench players like Wilmer Difo in the starting lineup. And with Murphy nursing a sore hip, Sanchez has had learn to handle uncertainty. Some nights he’s called on to start, others to be a pinch hitter. Lately he’s been batting second, a spot where he feels no pressure because of the big bats behind him.
“In [Class AAA] I was always batting second. It’s a place where I’m comfortable,” Sanchez said. “I don’t have any pressure because I know I have Harper behind me, but I don’t feel any pressure. The same things I was doing as a pinch-hitter or when I was batting ninth, I’m doing that when I’m batting second.”
Nationals Manager Dusty Baker likes what he’s seen from Sanchez and his adaptability.
“In situation, time of the game, he’s performed well, big-time. He’s still learning,” Baker said. “We’re teaching him every day. He’s a pretty quick learner.”
Despite the constant uncertainty, Sanchez is focusing on the moments his name is called, whether that’s pregame or the ninth inning.
“The manager doesn’t tell me what my role is. I’m prepared mentally and physically for whatever he needs [from] me,” Sanchez said. “Be it at short, third or second, I got to the stadium with the mind-set that in whatever situation or whatever fielding position he wants me at, I have to be ready for that.”