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 woolen sailor's cap and mid-winter parka), his dynamite left arm was NOT hanging in a sling, and Hey, he says he's "excited" to be in Kansas City. And there you have the key points of a brief meeting between the former San Francisco Giants pitcher and a gaggle of KC area media members in a tunnel under Kauffman Stadium Thursday morning. Sanchez, in fact, said all the right things for a guy who had just been traded from a team that won the World Series two years ago to a club that hasn't sniffed the playoffs since 1985. Yes, he's completely recovered from both a bout of tendinitis in his elbow and a high ankle sprain injuries that limited him to 19 starts last year and affected his productivity (4-7, 4.26 ERA). Yes, he knows more than you might expect about the youthful but ambitious Royals. "Good people, good organization," he said. "It's a young team with guys who want to play the game a team going up." Yes, he expected to be traded from the pitching-rich but bat-poor Giants, and considered it a compliment to be exchanged for a proven major league hitter like Melky Cabrera. Yes, he has walked a lot of hitters in his six-year career, but he's struck out twice as many. "I'd rather cut down on the walks," Sanchez said, "but it's hard the 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 explanation for that his walk total almost five batters per nine innings and the strikeouts that come with it (nearly 10 Ks per nine innings). "My fastball just goes in both directions," he said when asked if 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 reasonable command of his pitches even though his fastball range is basically only 90-93 miles per hour. He's thrown a no-hitter and struck out seven straight hitters in another game. So his basic pitching strategy seems to make sense. "I'm just aiming for the middle of the plate," he said. "I just trust in the natural movement of the ball." Sanchez, who looked a bit smaller and lighter than his listed height and weight (6-foot and 200 pounds), seemed a pleasant enough fellow at first blush and he insisted that rumors that he's a hothead and a trash talker simply aren't true. "I'm a competitor," he said. "I love to play baseball and I want to win. But about that other stuff, wherever it comes fromno. "That's not me." He didn't seem concerned about changing leagues, either, calling it a "new challenge," 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, the dimensions of a ballpark probably aren't as critical as they'd be for, say, Jeff Francis. As for the trade, Sanchez said that he not only wasn't shocked by the deal, but he felt the Giants had been trying to deal him since 2006 which is basically his entire tenure in San Francisco. Asked exactly why the Giants would want to unload a guy who pitched them into the playoffs in 2010 going 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA over his last seven starts and beating San Diego to win the NL West on the final day of the season Sanchez claimed to be puzzled. The closest he could come to an explanation was that the Giants had bigger plans for other starters in their loaded system. The actual trade for Cabrera, though, made sense to Sanchez. "They need to score more runs," he said. "We had plenty of pitchers to win games, but the team couldn't score." Quizzed about his future and whether he could picture himself as a fixture in Kansas City for a few years, Sanchez sounded more like an athlete who admits he doesn't really understand management motives and won't waste time worrying about it. "I'll just go day to day," he said. "I want to pitch. I want to play baseball. "I'm happy to be someplace where they want me, and where I can help. "I hope I can win games and help this team make the playoffs and win the World Series. That's why you're out there." Even if the entire interview session was a little bland, Sanchez was perfectly clear on one point. After pitching in the chilly breezes along the bay in San Francisco, he's more than happy to swap that for blistering summer days in Kansas City. "Hey, I'm from Puerto Rico," he said, to a round of laughter. All went well. Now the Royals' newest lefty merely needs to achieve a few of his goals, and everyone will be happy.
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