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Service With A Smile

With an unwavering allegiance to his team, Freddy Sanchez is not focused on personal accomplishments despite being in the midst of a batting championship

September 27, 2006

Standing on the grass around home plate at Dodger Stadium, Freddy Sanchez isn't hard to spot; he's the player with the biggest smile.

The former Burbank High and Glendale Community College standout appears uncharacteristically relaxed as he waits to take his hacks in the batting cage before a recent game between his Pittsburgh Pirates and the Dodgers. He jokes with teammates, talks with onlookers and even takes time to waive to some friends in the stands.

He is a player at ease, comfortable in his role as a Major League Baseball player and confident in his ability to put the bat on the ball with remarkable consistency.

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One would never know that Sanchez is in the midst of a battle for a National League batting championship. The 28-year-old refuses to succumb to the pressure of the chase and is uneasy reveling in his own personal triumphs. Instead, he chooses to relish the team's recent success.

"I'm just having fun this season," said Sanchez, a third baseman, who can also play second base and shortstop. "Because I have been able to get a lot of at-bats, I'm more comfortable at the plate, and maybe that's why I've been successful.

"But as far as the batting championship is concerned, it really doesn't matter to me if I win it. What is more important to me is that I have been able to help this team and we have been playing better baseball since the All-Star break. That's what I'm proud of."

Be assured that Sanchez doesn't engage in false modesty, that's just not a component of his personality. Since his beginnings in baseball, playing catch with his father, Fred, and uncle, Steve, in the front yard of his Burbank house, it's never been about Freddy.

"I have never been a person who is concerned with how many awards I can win," he said. "That's just not what I'm about.

"But I know guys who are like that, and there's nothing wrong with that. I know there are probably players who I'm competing against who are focused on winning the batting title. But that's just not me."

With less than a week remaining in the season, Sanchez is sitting atop the National League with a .342 average (190 for 556) heading into Tuesday's game. .

He held a lead on the Florida Marlins' Miguel Cabrera (.336) by six points and the Colorado Rockies' Matt Holliday (.332) by 10 points.

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