Freddy Sanchez is playing third base on rehab assignment

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Pablo Sandoval being out 4-6 weeks with a fractured hamate bone has the Giants thinking about creative ways to replace him, which is why second baseman Freddy Sanchez played third base yesterday on his minor-league rehab assignment.

Sanchez has suffered numerous setbacks trying to recover from shoulder problems, so counting on him returning as a productive player is iffy enough without a position switch, but Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that the 34-year-old “went to manager Bruce Bochy last week and volunteered to try playing third base.”

Post-surgery arm strength was already going to be an issue for Sanchez at second base and last time he played third base was 2006, but he’s logged more than 1,300 career innings as the position and claims the longer throws are somehow easier on his shoulder.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that Ryan Theriot and Emmanuel Burriss aren’t exactly putting up huge numbers splitting time at second base, so Sanchez returning as a third baseman might solve one problem while leaving another.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.