All systems go for Sanchez after 30-pitch outing

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Anibal Sanchez

Lakeland, Fla.— General manager Al Avila walked off Kaline Field Friday morning after watching Anibal Sanchez throw a simulated game and flashed two thumbs up to the media.

Sanchez is still battling bronchitis, but his right arm looked healthy in a 30-pitch outing against Andrew Romine and four minor league hitters.

“I feel really good,” Sanchez said. “Finally I am facing hitters for the first time in spring training and I know I have plenty of time to get ready for the season. Today is one of the first steps that I have to take after the elbow inflammation and I am ready.”

Officially, the Tigers diagnosed Sanchez with lower triceps inflammation (just above the elbow), and it’s essentially shut him down since Feb. 22. But he’s gradually worked his way back. He said he was ready to pitch in a spring game, but manager Brad Ausmus is pumping the brakes.

“He'll throw one more side in the next couple of days, then throw against hitters -- either a minor-league game or guys from camp,” Ausmus said. “Perhaps next Wednesday.”

If all goes well, Sanchez could still make four spring starts.

“We should be able to get him up to 90 pitches in his last spring outing,” Ausmus said.

Sanchez, understandably, is eager to face hitters wearing a different uniform in a live game setting.

“I need to keep working,” he said. “Tomorrow is another day. Just keep working, keep building my arm. I just want to see a healthy guy out there every five days.”

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Besides Avila, manager Brad Ausmus, pitching coach Rich Dubee and trainer Kevin Rand intently watched Sanchez throw. He allowed just two hits – a line drive to right by Romine and a bouncer up the middle by Jordany Valdespin.

"It was a good sign when he was more concerned about his pitches than his mechanics,” Ausmus said. “And not concentrating on his arm and the health aspects.”

Three of the hitters struck out looking against Sanchez.

“I threw everything,” Sanchez said. “I tried to make a real good sequence. Facing hitters from your own team is not the same as a real game, but five days from now, I am going to be back on that mound, so we’re going to see.”

Sanchez isn’t worried about building his arm strength and pitch count – four weeks is plenty of time barring any other setback. Now if he could just conquer the bronchitis.

“In that way, I don’t feel good,” he said. “It’s really hard to catch my breath. But it is what it is. We’re in Florida. There’s a lot of pollen. What can you do?”

Around the horn

Hall of Famer Goose Gossage met with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi one day after criticizing Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista and Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes for the way they celebrated homers during the playoffs last year.

Gossage called Bautista a “disgrace to the game” during a profanity-laced interview in Tampa on Thursday.

... Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has a strained patella tendon in his left knee and could miss the start of the season.

Cabrera is expected to miss at least two weeks.

... Former Mets closer Jenrry Mejia wants to challenge the agreement he made not to appeal his third positive drug test, which led to a lifetime ban from baseball.

... Twelve pitches into his comeback attempt, A’s right-hander Jarrod Parker broke his elbow. He also broke the same elbow last May.

... Masahiro Tanaka allowed one hit over three shutout innings in his second spring training start, and the Yankees defeated the Orioles, who dropped to 0-10-2.

Detroit News wire services contributed