Notre Dame opens weekend with doubleheader at noon on Saturday
Spirited leader of 2004 squad who will serve as team tri-captain alongside classmate Steve Sollmann and junior pitcher Chris Niesel ... prep infielder who is entering second season at new position of catcher, after playing surprise role as starting shortstop on 2002 College World Series team (due to early-season injuries suffered by then-freshmen Matt Macri and Matt Edwards) ... classic team player and unselfish performer who takes what the pitcher gives him for quality at-bats ... serves as a tremendous role model for younger players who are eager to make their mark, after having minimal impact as a freshman in 2001 (when he hit 0-for-13 in two starts and seven games as a reserve) ... the presence of highly-regarded freshman Sean Gaston should allow him to catch fewer innings in '04, after logging 86-percent of the team's innings behind the plate in '03 ... has good catching tools, including size (6-2, 205), arm strength and soft hands ... holds unique added distinction of serving as team's top utility infielder ... also could see time as righthanded DH or even in left field ... has shown a boost in his overall offensive game since taking on the new position of catcher, with a greater understanding of pitching strategy ... also could see a higher level of production in '04 due to decreased innings behind the plate (and lesser mental fatigue) ... has steadily developed into a professional prospect at catcher ... looking to follow a path similar to that of former Irish star Mike Amrhein, a 99th-round draft pick as a junior in 1996 (when he hit .323 with 49 RBI) before making huge jump in '97 after switch from infield to catcher (.394, 71 RBI; 10th-round pick of Chicago Cubs, played six seasons and reached triple-A) ... a gamer whose lateseason surge in '03 included MVP honors at BIG EAST Tournament and a spot on NCAA Regional all-tournament team ... clutch hitter and quality bunter who possibly could see time batting in the No. 2 spot ... also a very heady baserunner ... has made steady progress to becoming a polished catcher, under the direction of second-year assistant coach David Grewe (who played behind the plate in his days at Dayton) ... made strong commitment to learning new position from the start (fall of '02), adjusting to the different throwing mechanics while developing his blocking skills ... has shown the ability to handle Notre Dame's talented pitching staff while maintaining a steady rhythm and control of the game ... continued his junior-year development while playing alongside Irish teammates Joe Thaman and Tyler Jones with the Madison (Wis.) Mallards of the Northwoods League, during the summer of '03 ... hit mostly in the 3rd, 4th and 5th spots for Mallards team that won the first-half league title, en route to batting .262 in 53 total games played (26 RBI, 19 R, 2 2B, 17 BB, 9-of-16 SB) ... hit .283 in first three seasons with the Irish, spanning 133 games and 124 starts (55 RBI, 92 R, 6 HR, 4 3B, 20 2B, 45 BB, 12 HBP, 50 Ks, 13 sac. bunts, 7-of-9 SB, .263 on-base, .387 slugging) ... five of his six career home runs have come away from home, including 2002 postseason blasts vs. Rutgers and Stanford ... played shortstop (with Gaston catching) for victorious Blue squad during 2003 Blue-Gold fall intrasquad series, with bases-clearing triple in decisive 13-10 win (he hit 4-for-9 in the series, with 5 RBI, 3 R, 3B, 2B, HBP) ... had strong 2001 summer playing alongside former Irish teammate Steve Stanley on Delaware (Ohio) Cows, batting .354 ... joined ND teammates Jones and Ryan Kalita on Hays (Kan.) Larks in summer of `02 ... longtime friend of former ND teammate and Miami native Danny Tamayo (pitching prospect in Kansas City Royals system) ... part of Irish baseball program that has produced 18 letterwinners from Florida, including current teammates Chris Niesel (Plantation) and Brennan Grogan (Tequesta) ... those three combine with freshman lefthander Matt Whittington (Melbourne) to give the Irish a Florida native in each class on the '04 roster ... could face former Mallards teammate Mike Rozema (the St. John's shortstop) in '04 ... also could face former youth baseball teammate Louis Prado, a catcher at Louisville ... posted 3.20 GPA in 2002 fall semester and a 3.47 in fall of '03.
AS A JUNIOR: Completed impressive transition to new position of catcher, with late surge including MVP honors at BIG EAST Tournament and spot on all-tournament team at the NCAA Fullerton Regional ... ranked third on team in hit-by-pitch (7), fourth in runs (42) and stolen bases (6-of-9), and fifth in batting avg.(.303), hits (61), doubles (13), walks (20) and starts (57) ... caught 86-percent of innings (476 of 554), including 92% in second half of season (264 of 286, spanning 30 games; 71 of 72 in postseason) ... his other '03 stats included 26 RBI, one home run and one triple (.393 slugging pct., .384 on-base) ... posted .982 fielding pct., with 8 errors plus 16 passed balls (many early in season) ... threw out 19 of 77 attempted basestealers, making big strides in that area as season progressed ... totaled more walks (20) than strikeouts (16), averaging 12.5 at-bats per K ... grounded into just one double play (96 ABs with runners on) ... ranked fifth on team in batting with runners in scoring position (.317) and leadoff on-base pct. (.400) ... made 56 starts at catcher (one at DH), missing four games in mid-April due to minor injury ... hit mostly in 5-hole (23 starts), plus 10 starts as No. 6 hitter and 16 in 8th spot (7 in 7-hole) ... his 395 fielding putouts ranked 10th in ND record book ... ranked third on team with 21 multi-hit games, plus five with multiple RBI ... hit just .205 in BIG EAST regular season (5 RBI, 13 R, 3B, 2B, 8 BB, 5 Ks, 4 HBP, 3 Es) before breakthrough at tournament ... hit 2-for-5 in second game at ASU (2 RBI, R; 8-14) and 2-for-4 vs. Minnesota in Metrodome (R; 2-8) ... posted matching stats in pair of games vs. Navy, in Jacksonville, Fla. (2-for-4, RBI, 2 R) ... those efforts were part of five straight two-hit games on spring break, also going 2-for-2 vs. North Florida (2 BB; 6-1), 2-for-4 at Jacksonville (2 RBI, 2 R, HR, BB, SB; 6-9) and 2-for-4 vs. Eastern Illinois ... his two-run blast in 9th inning vs. Jacksonville capped comeback from 5-0 deficit (6-6), but JU won on three-run shot in 10th to hand Irish a rare extra-inning loss (6-9) ... helped post 8-5 win over Purdue (2-for-3, RBI, 4 R, BB, SB) ... hit 3-for-7 in dominating doubleheader at St. John's (3 RBI, 2 R, 3B, 2 BB; 11-3, 18-3) ... closed regular season 2-for-4 at Virginia Tech (RBI, R; 5-11) before setting BIG EAST Tournament record by batting .727 (8-for-11) ... his MVP performance included eight other quality plate appearances, with four walks and four sacrifice bunts (last on two-strike count) ... compiled.800 on-base pct. and 1.000 slugging (2 RBI) while having a hand in 11 of Irish 40 runs (6 RBI, 5 R) ... hit 4-for-5 with runners in scoring position, 3-for-4 with 2 outs and reached on 3-of-4 leadoff plate appearances ... caught 35 of 36 innings at BIG EAST Tournament (and all 36 at NCAAs) ... sparked 17-hit eruption in opening win over West Virginia (3-for-3, RBI, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 BB; 9-3) before rare 0-for-0 game in winners-bracket showdown with Rutgers (RBI, BB, 3 sac. bunts; 9-3) ... his last bunt in that game scored Cody Rizzo on squeeze play ... nearly helped Irish rally to win next game vs. RU (3-for-5, 3 RBI, R, 2B; 11-15) before delivering again in second title game vs. Knights (2-for-3, RBI, R, BB, SAC; 11-3) ... earned all-tournament honors at NCAA Fullerton Regional after batting 6-for-15 (2 RBI, 4 R, SB, HBP) ... fueled another 17-hit attack in opening win over Arizona (3-for-4, RBI, 3 R, SB, HBP; 13-4), including RBI single to start seven-run top of 2nd ... hit 1-for-4 in first loss to host Cal State Fullerton (3-4), 2-for-4 in elimination game vs. San Diego (R; 6-3) and 0-for-3 in season finale vs. Fullerton (RBI; 1-8).
AS A SOPHOMORE: Filled unexpected role as starting shortstop, after injuries to Macri and fellow freshman Matt Edwards ... played 66 games (second on team), with 59 of 65 starts at short (three at both second and third) ... hit mostly in No. 8 spot (44 games), plus starts in 7th (8), 9th (5) 6th (4) and 2nd (4) spots ... hit .281 (15-for-48 in postseason) while ranking third on team in runs (50) and fourth in sac. bunts (8; plus 29 RBI, 5 HR, 3 3B, 7 2B, 24 BB, 5 HBP) ... many of his 28 errors (.902 fielding) came early in season ... posted 46 error-free games (eight in nine NCAA games) ... helped turn 41 of team-record 66 double plays ... compiled team's second-longest hit streak (12 games, May 12 - June 1; 18-for-42) ... started at second in opener vs. Missouri (2-for-4, R; 7-6), then at second and third in next six games (dnp vs. TCU) ... replaced Edwards in fourth inning vs. USC, starting next 41 at short (dnp vs. Rochester College, then started final 17 at short) ... sparked 15-8 comeback vs. USC (H, 2 BB, 2 R) and helped beat Creighton in San Antonio (2 H, R; 6-2) ... played key role in pivotal 10-6, 10-inning comeback at West Virginia, with early single, walk and run before two-run double to left-center (plating winning run) ... hit 5-for-8 at Georgetown (4-for-5 second game, 2 RBI, 2 R, HR) ... plated Andrew Bushey with one-out, 9th-inning double to left before scoring on Matt Bok single to beat Western Michigan, 5-4 ... hit 4-for-4 vs. Central Michigan (3 RBI, 3 R, HR; 10-9) ... had RBI single and two-run blast in 7-4 win over Michigan at Fifth Third Park ... hit 4-for-9 in sweep of Boston College (5 R, RBI, 3B) ... accounted for all Irish runs in 4-3 BIG EAST Tournament loss to Rutgers (2-run HR, bunt single, R) ... singled and scored in rally that beat Ohio State in NCAA Regional, 8-6 (3 H) ... had two hits and a run in 25-1 win over South Alabama, plus run in clinching win over OSU (9-6) ... hit 3-for-11 and made several big defensive plays in Super Regional series at top-ranked Florida State, with bases-loaded catch over his head in shallow left to preserve 10-4 win(also bases-loaded walk and run) before diving stop that saved early run in 3-1 win (he sent two-out, 1-0 pitch from Marc LaMacchia into right field to plate Kris Billmaier for 2-0 lead) ... homered in College World Series opener vs. Stanford, launching one-out, 0-1 pitch from Jeremy Guthrie over leftfield fence to forge 3-3 tie (Stanford won, 4-3).
AS A FRESHMAN: Appeared in nine games, batting 0-for-13 ... made starts at third base vs. Eastern Michigan (4-3, at UOP) and Detroit (BB; 9-8) ... played in four BIG EAST games.
PREP & PERSONAL: Played second and third base at Christopher Columbus High School (alma mater of ND head coach Paul Mainieri), earning third team all-county as senior team MVP (.348, 34 RBI, 5 HR) ... captained team to district title (first since `92), with team-best fielding pct. (4 E) ... hit 2-for-4 in district-title game (2B, HR, 4 RBI) ... led team to 27-3 record and No. 4 national ranking as junior (.315, 2 HR; four seniors on team were drafted) ... received 2000 Marist Leadership Award ... quarterbacked 9-0 JV football team as sophomore ... member of National Honor Society, graduating with 3.9 GPA ... played 2000 summer-league ball with Youngstown (Ohio) Astro Falcons (.310, 22 RBI, 3 HR, 8 Ks, 4 E, 30-5 team record) ... met future Irish classmate Steve Sollmann when the Falcons played series vs. Midland (Ohio) Redskins (he introduced himself when Sollmann reached second) ... brother Juan Carlos Sanchez plays baseball at St. Thomas (Fla.) University, where Mainieri began his head coaching career in `83 ... son of Juan Carlos and Armanda Sanchez ... full name is Javier Armando Sanchez ... born Nov. 8, 1981, in Miami ... management major in Mendoza College of Business.