Anibal Sanchez returns from the disabled list today after missing the past six weeks with a strained pectoral muscle, but instead of jumping back into the Tigers’ rotation he’ll be eased back in the mix as a reliever.
Because the minor-league season is over Sanchez wasn’t able to build up the necessary arm strength to start on a rehab assignment, so he comes off the disabled list following a 45-pitch simulated game Sunday.
Asked about Sanchez’s role, manager Brad Ausmus told Jason Beck of MLB.com:
It would depend on how deep the starter went. If the starter struggles, he could probably pitch the sixth and seventh. If the starter did well, he could probably pitch the seventh, he could probably pitch the eighth. Really, his stuff is that good. I wouldn’t be afraid to use him at any point in the game, really.
Sanchez has just one previous relief appearance, way back in 2006 when he was a 22-year-old rookie for the Marlins.
Detroit has the rotation depth to survive without Sanchez, who led the league in ERA last season and had a 3.46 ERA in 125 innings before being shut down this year. They can rely on David Price, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Rick Porcello while potentially using Sanchez in a multi-inning, high-leverage relief role in a bullpen that has been a problem all year.
Didi Gregorius will wear a mask during games this year. That’s what the Phillies infielder tells the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“We are trying to go through the guidelines and trying to do everything we can do to stay safe, so, that’s why people see me walking around with a mask on and stuff. I am keeping myself safe, wearing a mask everywhere I go. So, I have to keep it on me all the time.”
Gregorius will wear a mask both while batting and out in the field, he said.
A big reason for it is that he has a chronic kidney condition which makes him “high risk” under Major League Baseball’s safety protocols. He could opt out if he wanted to but Gregorius, who signed a $14 million deal with the Phillies last winter, is a free agent again this coming offseason. He is coming off of a down year in 2019, having hit .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI across 344 plate appearances. Gregorius underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2018 and didn’t make his 2019 season debut until June 7. A big reason he took a one-year deal was to reestablish his value for next season’s go-around on the free agent market and he doesn’t want the long layoff going into what could be his last significant payday.
Major League Baseball is not requiring players or umpires to wear masks on the field during games or practices, though it is reportedly looking into clear face shields for home plate umpires to wear under their usual protective masks.
Gregorius will wear a mask to keep himself safe, he said, but he also notes in the article that “I think it adds safety for everybody, for me and people around me.” Here’s hoping, given his vulnerability, everyone around him is being as safe as he is.