Pablo Sandoval is going back behind the plate

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Pablo Sandoval hasn’t caught a major league game since May 8, 2009, but the Giants have asked him to prepare for emergency duty with rookie Hector Sanchez as the lone backup to Buster Posey on the active roster.

While Sandoval is quite comfortable with his regular gig at third base, he told Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com that he’ll do whatever it takes to help the team.

“If they need me, I’ll be in there,” the Giants’ opening day third baseman said. “It’s gonna be tough when you get two or three years not catching. You have to be ready to catch two bullpens in one day to make sure I’m fine. But I don’t get mad. It’s part of the team and if I have to do it, I’ll do it for sure.”

Sanchez is a switch-hitter, so the Giants want the flexibility to use him in certain situations without being exposed. Still, given how important Sandoval is to the team’s offense, it would probably take a pretty unusual circumstance for him to get behind the plate during a game again.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.