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Anibal Sanchez doesn’t expect repeat of relief debut

Tom Gage
The Detroit News

Detroit — With Anibal Sanchez being used from now on as a relief pitcher, the Tigers don’t want history to repeat itself.

In fact, almost anything will be better as long as he doesn’t reprise the only bullpen outing he’s ever had in the majors.

The date was July 1, 2006 — Sanchez’s first season in the majors, and just his second outing for the Florida Marlins.

The starter for the Marlins that afternoon against Boston was former Tiger Brian Moehler, who ran into a first-inning trouble and lasted just 2/3 inning.

Sanchez retired the first batter he faced, Alex Gonzalez, with two runners on to end the first inning.

He then retired the side in order in the second, doing so with 11 pitches. So far, so good, right?

Then he ran into David Ortiz, who led off the top of the third with a solo home run — after which Sanchez got into, and out of, a bases-loaded jam.

Still not bad.

But Ortiz hit a second home run off Sanchez in the fourth, this time with one on, and Mike Lowell doubled in a run.

Even then, however, Sanchez was not removed from the game.

He retired the side in order in the fifth, only to allow an RBI double to Ortiz in the sixth, followed by Manny Ramirez’s two-run home run.

Finally, after 86 pitches in 41/3 innings, Sanchez’s first and the only previous relief outing of his career ended.

He’s been a starter ever since — until now.

But at least he knows that with the Tigers, as he comes off the disabled list on the heels of throwing 45 pitches in simulated game conditions on Sunday in Kansas City, he won’t be asked to throw 41/3 innings of relief — or to come anywhere near the 86 pitches he threw in that game against Boston.

Asked Tuesday if the 45 pitches he threw Sunday also represent his pitch limit as he goes forward, Sanchez said “it’s not a limit. I won’t throw 45 pitches in one inning of relief.”

No, he probably won’t — and for now, before he’s stretched out for more, one inning here and there might be all he’s going to get.

Locker sign

He’s not put it up yet, because he knows all the questions are well intended, but Alex Avila kidded Tuesday about putting up sign in his locker about how he’s feeling.

“One box could say ‘good,’ another box could say ‘real good,’ another could say ‘great, thanks,’ ” he said — but, again, he’s not put it up yet.

Avila does think, however, the questions about how he’s feeling are automatically answered by the fact he’s been able to play the last two days.

Around the horn

Reliever Joba Chamberlain turned 29 on Tuesday. His beard isn’t that old, however.

... Ian Kinsler’sfirst-inning strikeout was just his 78th. He’s never fanned more than 90 times in any of his major-league seasons — so it’s no surprise that he remains, at one K for every 9.1 at-bats, one of the toughest hitters to strike out in the majors.