Anibal Sanchez required a cortisone shot last week to combat right shoulder inflammation, but he appears on track to make his first scheduled start of the regular season.
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, Sanchez threw 71 pitches in a minor league game today without incident. His first game action since March 12, he allowed one run on seven hits and one walk over four innings while striking out four.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus wants to see how Sanchez feels tomorrow before he truly exhales, but the current plan calls for him to come back over to the Grapefruit League side to start Saturday against the Nationals. If all goes well, he’ll start the third game of the regular season next week against the Royals.
Sanchez, 30, led the American League with a 2.57 ERA last season and compiled an impressive 202/54 K/BB ratio over 182 innings. His shoulder has been an issue for him during his career and even sidelined him briefly last season, so while it appears that he will start the season on time, it will be something to monitor.
Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”
Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”
Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.