Sanchez takes lumps, settles down in last spring outing

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski was talking Friday about the general irrelevance of spring training statistics when it comes to evaluating veteran players.

"I have been watching veteran players for years, Hall of Fame players, and they look ready to go; they are ready to go," he said. "But what that will translate into, you will find out Opening Day. I don't think anybody is so smart to prognosticate exactly what it means."

To illustrate his point, he asked if anybody knew Seattle ace Felix Hernandez's spring ERA?

"It's over 10," he said. "But I'd like to have King Felix — not that I want to be accused of tampering (laughter). I saw where (Cleveland ace) Corey Kluber got hit hard the other day. It happens.

"When you start to over-evaluate based on spring training, I think you make a big mistake."

The discussion had local relevance.

Tigers Opening Day starter David Price was hit hard his last two spring starts. Anibal Sanchez, now the Tigers No. 2 starter, gave up five runs in the first two innings in an 11-5 loss to the Rays Friday.

Nobody in the Tigers organization is the least bit concerned about either one.

"I would feel a lot worse if I was looking at a guy who had been throwing 93-94 mph and all of a sudden he's throwing 88-89," Dombrowski said. "Then you start saying, 'Gee, I wonder where that extra velocity is going to come from.' Most guys can't dial it up that much.

"But we aren't seeing that from any of our guys."

After giving up a grand slam home run to Brandon Guyer in a 34-pitch first inning and a triple to Kevin Kiermaier in the second, Sanchez settled down completely.

He retired the last 12 hitters he faced.

"My tempo in the first inning was off," said Sanchez, who struck out five and threw 81 pitches. "When I find my tempo, I started to put the ball in the right spots. I was too slow, too comfortable in the first inning.

"Everything was slow and lazy. I need to be stronger in the first inning."

His next start will be Wednesday against the Twins at Comerica Park.

"I am ready, for sure," Sanchez said.

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky