Tigers' Sanchez: Arm inflammation 'not a big deal'

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Anibal Sanchez

Lakeland, Fla. – Since Monday, manager Brad Ausmus had been cryptic when asked about injuries.

“None that I’m willing to talk about,” he said.

But it was clear that something was wrong with Anibal Sanchez and he wasn’t fully participating in the pitchers’ on-field work. After he didn’t throw Thursday – he was scheduled to pitch live batting practice – Ausmus confirmed the suspicion.

“He’s got a little inflammation in his lower (right) triceps area,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to be anything concerning, but you are always cringing when it involves one of your starting pitchers.”

Especially someone as vital to the team's success as Sanchez.

"I think Sanchy is one of the most important parts of our team, quite frankly," Ausmus said. "We need him healthy and we need him to return to the guy he was a couple of years ago."

Sanchez first felt soreness in his triceps during a bullpen session Monday. He underwent an MRI on Tuesday, which showed no structural damage, just the inflammation. Ausmus said Sanchez won’t pick up a ball again until Monday.

“I am good,” Sanchez said. “It’s not a big deal. I just have to slow everything down and we are at the right time to do that.”

Given Sanchez’s medical history, even small injuries are worrisome. He hasn’t made 30 starts in a season since 2012. He was on the disabled list twice in 2014 -- lacerated finger and strained pectoral muscle – and made 21 starts. Last season he made 25 starts but was bothered most of the year by a strained rotator cuff.

And now, with inflammation in an area so close to the elbow he had surgically repaired (Tommy John) in 2003, the Tigers will proceed with extreme caution.

“I can’t say for sure, but it wouldn’t shock me if he didn’t make his first start (of spring training),” Ausmus said. “But that’s not etched in stone.”

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Sanchez, who rested his strained shoulder for three months in the offseason, said he thinks the soreness is a result of trying to do too much too quickly.

“I wasn’t working too much with my arm (in the offseason), just baby stuff,” he said. “By now I wanted to throw hard and I wanted to start feeling strong. It just got a little inflammation.”

Sanchez believes this is only a minor setback.

“We have enough time to get ready for the season,” he said. “When something happens, you need to take care of it. It’s early. We don’t have to rush anything, especially if I have soreness. I don’t have to take the risk of it getting worse just because I want to be ready on time.

“Let’s not rush now. We’ve got enough time.”

Around the horn

Ausmus has set his starting pitchers for early next week. Rookie Kevin Ziomek will start the tune-up game against Florida Southern on Monday. Matt Boyd will start the Grapefruit League opener Tuesday against the Pirates. Both games are at Marchant Stadium.

There are split squad games on Wednesday – Mike Pelfrey will get the start against the Yankees in Tampa and Buck Farmer will start against the Pirates in Bradenton.

Twitter @cmccosky