Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/15/13
The third time Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland paid Anibal Sanchez a mound visit Saturday night, he was asking for the baseball. Sanchez, pitching for the first time since taking one start off with stiffness in the back area near the shoulder, threw just 72 pitches against the Minnesota Twins. He came out with two on and two out in the fourth inning, and didnt figure in the decision of a 6-3 loss. The early shower broke a streak of 14 consecutive quality starts by Detroits rotation. A sub-part outing by Sanchez wasnt the concern. The two-run homer Trevor Plouffe drove out to deep left-center wasnt even off a bad pitch. But any time a pitcher as valuable as Sanchez who Detroit signed for 80 million over five years this winter could be physically-compromised, it becomes a concern. "I wanted to be careful with Sanchez," Leyland told reporters afterward. "I was a little concerned; that's why I went out early on. But the good news is he's healthy. He felt fine. Probably a little sluggish -- just trying to get his rhythm back and mechanics back. "He'd been idle for a while. I was concerned originally. But then, yeah, I felt pretty comfortable, he was all right. He wasn't himself, obviously, but I didn't really expect him to be. I didn't want to push it too hard." The 3 23 innings was his second-shortest stint of the season, and the 72 pitches his fewest in 13 starts. Sanchez told reporters he felt fine, but didnt have his usual velocity. Sanchez threw pitches in the 90-94 mph range, but did not reach 90 mph on a single pitch in the fourth inning. "I feel good at this point," Sanchez said in an Associated Press report. "Even right now I don't feel anything in my shoulder. Don't know for what reason I don't throw hard." Sanchez said the 130 pitches he threw in a complete game one-hitter against the Twins on May 24 in Detroit was not the cause of the stiffness. That may be true, but he had a 2.38 ERA after that game and a 4.24 ERA in three starts since. Theres no need to panic here. But until Sanchez comes out and mows down hitters over seven or eight innings, he will be watched closely. Sanchez (6-5, 2.76 ERA) said he missed one start last year for the Miami Marlins under similar circumstances. And he came back with eight days between starts to allow one earned run over seven innings to beat the Chicago Cubs. He made a quality start the next time out, too, and was then traded along with second baseman Omar Infante to the Tigers. Pitch command was a problem for Sanchez Saturday night. Leyland came out along with Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand after he walked consecutive batters in the second. Sanchez then struck out Chris Parmelee and got Brian Dozier to hit into a double play. Then, two batters after Plouffes homer in the fourth, Sanchez walked Dozier and Leyland came out again. He kept Sanchez in, but Darin Downs was warming up and came in after the next batter, Pedro Florimon, singled. The four walks matched the season-high for Sanchez, who also had that many over seven innings against the Oakland As on April 14. TURNER, BRANTLY UPDATES: How are the primary players Detroit dealt to Miami last July for Sanchez and Infante doing? Jacob Turner, 22, has three quality starts since being called up three weeks ago, and is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Catcher Rob Brantly, 23, is batting .245 with 15 RBIs. He has eight doubles, but no other extra-base hits in 147 at-bats. Brantlys 33 strikeouts are a concern.
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