Detroit – Anibal Sanchez will be active and available to pitch out of the bullpen Tuesday, manager Brad Ausmus said before the game Monday.
Sanchez started 21 games before being shelved by a strained right pectoralis muscle Aug. 9. He has only pitched one game in relief in his career. It was his rookie season in 2006 and he allowed seven runs and eight hits in 4.1 innings.
Ausmus, though, doesn't think he will have any issues making the adjustment this time.
"I think he'll be fine," he said. "He has some of the best stuff on our pitching staff. I think he can fill a number of roles, depending on how deep the starter works. He could work the sixth and seventh, the seventh, the eighth – his stuff is that good.
"I would not be afraid to use him at any point in the game."
When Sanchez starts, he has a pre-game ritual that takes two and a half hours to complete. Ausmus said he talked to him about working without that ritual.
"He doesn't think it's going to be a problem," Ausmus said. "He normally takes an extended time to get ready to start because he's preparing for six or seven innings. The way he explained it to me, it wouldn't take as long. He didn't expect it to be an issue."
Ausmus also said he wouldn't be able to give Sanchez any advance notice that he'd be pitching in any particular game.
"I will try to get him as much notice as possible but it won't be before the game," Ausmus said. "These are games we have to win, so we don't have the luxury of telling him, 'Hey, you are going to pitch Wednesday,' or anything like that.
"The game will determine when he pitches."
Sanchez threw 45 pitches in a simulated game on Sunday. Because his arm is not stretched out beyond that, Ausmus doesn't think he could use him for more than two innings at a time.
"I'd be a little concerned throwing him more than two," he said. "If he did throw two, you'd have to give him at least one and maybe two days off. That would be the concern."
The clubhouse was closed to the media before the game because the players were in a meeting with the MLB Players Association. So Sanchez was not available for comment.