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Marlins show Sanchez t-shirt support in ROY race

MIAMI GARDENS -- Despite putting up some award-worthy numbers by most first-year standards, Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez probably won't be voted this year's National League Rookie of the Year. But that's not stopping the Marlins from showing their first baseman some support as the season winds down. 

Gaby Sanchez During batting practice Thursday, manager Edwin Rodriguez and Marlins players wore t-shirts in support of Sanchez. The specially printed shirts, which had the number 14 on the back as well as Sanchez's last name, had a special design on the front: GS 14 4 ROY (Gaby Sanchez, No. 14, for Rookie of the Year).

Similar shirts were worn by players a year ago to help drum up support for Chris Coghlan, who became the third Marlins player -- Dontrelle Willis (2003) and Hanley Ramirez ('06) were the others -- to win the award.

"I saw the shirt when we were in Atlanta when Wes [Helms] showed it to me," Sanchez said. "I was like 'Oh boy.' I'm definitely not like that. I'm not big into doing any of that stuff. But it's nice to see the Marlins taking an initiative and trying to promote it."

Sanchez, who went into spring training expecting to battle Logan Morrison for the starting first base job, has arguably been the Marlins' second-most consistent player this season behind team MVP Dan Uggla.

Among all NL rookies, Sanchez ranks first in RBI (83), hits (153) and doubles (36), and ranks third in homers with 19. He went into the final series of the season Thursday against the Pirates hitting .274. Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (.278, 18 HRs, 71 RBI) and Giants catcher Buster Posey (.311, 16 HRs, 64 RBI) are considered by most, though, to be the front-runners for the award.

Sanchez said it would mean a lot to win the award, but doesn't think he'll pay too much attention when it's announced in mid November. Sanchez said what he's most proud of is that he was able to play the entire season.

"If it doesn't [happen], I'm not going to think I had a bad year just because I didn't get it," Sanchez said. "There's a lot of guys who are playing this year that are rookies that have unbelievable numbers, that had great seasons as well. It comes down to going out there and playing and winning. It's an individual award, which would be nice to get. But that's not why I'm playing baseball -- to win awards. I'm trying to win and help the team have fun playing baseball."

WEST WOULDN'T MIND FALL BALL: Injuries and inconsistency didn't allow Sean West to have the type of sophomore season he was hoping for in 2010. But the 24-year old left-hander, who went 8-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 20 starts as as a rookie last season, said he's planning to come back strong in 2011.

The first part of the plan: West said he's going to remain in Jupiter where he'll train the entire offseason at the Marlins spring training facility. 

"I'll be at the complex everyday, stretching, running," West said. "I want to come in the best shape of my life, ready to earn a spot. There's some guys that have come up this year that have made it a point to be in that rotation. It's definitely going to be a challenge going into spring training with the year I've had. [But] I'm just going to bust my [butt] as they say and be ready to compete for a spot."

West, who went on the disabled list with right knee inflammation Aug. 18 after making only two starts for the Marlins and going 0-2 with a 7.71, said he's been playing catch down in Jupiter with catcher Kyle Skipworth. The Marlins' 2008 first round pick left earlier this week for the Arizona Fall League, something West said he hopes he'll be able to do too if he can. West said he would like to work on his velocity in the offseason, which he says is down from the 92-94 mile per hour range he normally hits on the radar gun.

"They just want me to establish health, prove to them I'm fully healthy," West said of the Marlins. "Then we'll talk about what's going to happen after the season."

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