Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 11/10/11
Good news, Royals fans! Jonathan Sanchez is alive, he appears to be healthy (at least under a woolensailor's cap and mid-winter parka), his dynamite left arm was NOT hanging in asling and Hey, he says he's "excited" to be in Kansas City. These were the key points of a brief meeting between the former San FranciscoGiants pitcher and a gaggle of KC area media members in a tunnel under KauffmanStadium on Thursday morning. Sanchez said all the right things for a guy who had just been traded from ateam that won the World Series two years ago to a club that hasn't sniffed theplayoffs since 1985. The lefty is completely recovered from both a bout of tendinitis in his elbowand a high ankle sprain injuries that limited him to 19 starts last year andaffected his productivity (4-7, 4.26 ERA). He knows more than one might expect about the youthful, but ambitious Royals. "Good people, good organization," he said. "It's a young teamwith guys who want to play the game a team going up." He expected to be traded from the pitching-rich, but bat-poor Giants, andconsidered it a compliment to be exchanged for a proven major league hitterlike Melky Cabrera. Sanchez has walked a lot of hitters (376) in his six-year career, but he's nearlystruck out (736) twice as many. "I'd rather cut down on the walks," Sanchez said, "but it's hardthe way I throw the ball. As long as they don't score, I'm fine with it." On the subject of his stuff, Sanchez offered a pretty reasonable explanationfor that his walk total almost five batters per nine innings and thestrikeouts that come with it (nearly 10 Ks per nine innings). "My fastball just goes in both directions," Sanchez said when askedif his natural movement produces a cutting action. "Sometimes it does cut,but sometimes it goes the other way. "What can I say? I'm a left-hander." Sanchez has been described as "electric" when he has any reasonablecommand of his pitches even though his fastball range is basically only 90-93miles per hour. He's thrown a no-hitter and struck out seven consecutive hittersin another game. So his basic pitching strategy seems to make sense. "I'm just aiming for the middle of the plate," he said. "I justtrust in the natural movement of the ball." Sanchez, who looked a bit smaller and lighter than his listed 6-foot and 200pounds, seemed a pleasant enough fellow at first blush and he insisted thatrumors of being a hothead and a trash-talker simply aren't true. "I'm a competitor," he said. "I love to play baseball and I wantto win. But about that other stuff, wherever it comes from no. "That's not me." He didn't seem concerned about changing leagues, either, calling it a "newchallenge," and said he'd heard that Kauffman Stadium was a good pitchers'park. Of course, for a guy with one of the highest swing-and-miss ratios in MLB, thedimensions of a ballpark probably aren't as critical as they'd be for a pitcherlike Jeff Francis. As for the trade, Sanchez said that he not only wasn't shocked by the deal, buthe felt the Giants had been trying to deal him since 2006 which is basicallyhis entire tenure in San Francisco. Asked exactly why the Giants would want to unload a guy who pitched them intothe playoffs in 2010 going 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA over his last seven starts andbeating San Diego to win the NL West on the final day of that season Sanchezclaimed to be puzzled. The closest he could come to an explanation was that the Giants had biggerplans for other starters in their loaded system. The actual trade for Cabrera, though, made sense to Sanchez. "They need to score more runs," Sanchez said. "We had plenty ofpitchers to win games, but the team couldn't score." Quizzed about his future and whether he could picture himself as a fixture inKansas City for a few years, Sanchez sounded more like an athlete who admits hedoesn't really understand management motives and won't waste time worryingabout it. "I'll just go day to day," he said. "I want to pitch. I want toplay baseball. "I'm happy to be someplace where they want me, and where Ican help. "I hope I can win games and help this team make the playoffs and win theWorld Series. That's why you're out there." Even if the entire introductory interview session was a little bland, Sanchezwas perfectly clear on one point. After pitching in the chilly breezes alongthe bay in San Francisco, he's more than happy to swap that for blisteringsummer days in Kansas City. "Hey, I'm from Puerto Rico," he said, to a round of laughter. Now the Royals' newest lefty merely needs to achieve a few of his goals, andeveryone will be happy.
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