Mike Matheny on Michael Wacha’s bullpen session: “I was expecting less”

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Michael Wacha took a big step in his recovery Monday, mixing fastballs and changeups in a 35-pitch bullpen session, and afterward manager Mike Matheny seemed very encouraged when talking to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

I was expecting less. We’re being aggressive, a little more intensity. It looked really close to what we normally would see when he’s out there. It just looked real effortless when the ball was coming out of his hand. He wasn’t trying to hump up and do anything extraordinary. It looked good.

Wacha is two months into his recovery from a stress reaction in his shoulder and Hummel reports that he’ll likely have at least a couple more bullpen sessions before potentially seeing any game action.

So far so good, though.

Wacha, who last started a game for the Cardinals on June 17, had a 2.79 ERA and 83/26 K/BB ratio in 90 innings before the injury to basically duplicate his standout performance as a rookie last season.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. lays out to make a great catch in deep right-center field

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Cubs center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. robbed Giants first baseman Brandon Belt of at least a double in the top of the first inning of Monday’s game at Wrigley Field. Almora completely left his feet to catch the ball before landing just shy of the warning track.

The Giants took the early lead two batters prior to Belt’s at-bat as Joe Panik hit a solo home run to center field.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.