When Anibal Sanchez walked off the mound May 7th at LandShark Stadium against the Braves, he had a grimace on his face and a pain in his throwing shoulder that had many believing he might be headed for another long stint on the disabled list.
Less than a month later -- and a lot faster than anyone first expected -- the 25-year old right hander will pitch again for the Marlins. He'll get the start Tuesday night against the Brewers, retaking the spot he vacated when he went on the disabled list with what was classified as a shoulder sprain.
“It was definitely scary. I didn’t know when I was going to come back at first,” said Sanchez, who had Tommy John surgery in 2003 and missed most of 2007 and the first half of the 2008 season because of a shoulder injury that was followed surgery. “But I feel good now. I’m going to take the ball and do my job.”
Sanchez has lost his last four starts for the Marlins, giving up 31 hits and 19 earned runs in 21 2/3 innings (7.89 ERA) over the stretch. He pitched several bullpen sessions and simulated games at the Marlins spring training facility and Single A affiliate in Jupiter over the past two weeks before pitching for the Hammerheads in Lakeland on May 28.
In a game shortened by rain, Sanchez gave up three hits and struckout four over three scoreless innings in Lakeland. He threw 53 pitches in the outing and then another 22 in bullpen work.
"I don’t expect him to go out there, throw 115 pitches and give us a complete game," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But I expect him to give us a chance to win."
> INTERESTING DECISION LOOMING: Sanchez's return means long reliever Burke Badenhop, who gave up one run over five innings in a spot start Wednesday in Philadelphia, will go back to the bullpen. It also means the Marlins will have an interesting decision to make soon if and when Ricky Nolasco gets called back from Triple A New Orleans.
Nolasco, a 15-game winner and the ace of the Marlins rotation last season, has found his groove since being sent down May 23 after a horrendous outing against the Rays. Monday afternoon, Nolasco made his second start for the Zephyrs and pitched seven strong innings, giving up one earned run on six hits while striking out five and walking just one. In his first Triple A start last week, Nolasco gave up six hits and three earned runs while walking two and striking out seven over eight innings.
Rookie left-hander Sean West would be the candidate to get sent back down to the minors if and when Nolasco is ready to return. But West could make it hard on the Marlins to move him if he keeps pitching like he has. Friday in New York, West gave up one earned run in seven strong innings. He also pitched well against the Rays, going five innings and giving up two earned in his first big league start.
When asked about Nolasco's starts in Triple A and when he might return, Gonzalez was a bit cryptic. "I haven’t even thought about it," Gonzalez said. "There wasn’t a certain amount of starts, it was go ahead and work on these things. It wasn’t a maximum or minimum of starts. It was about reacting to the goals [pitching coach] Mark [Wiley] sent him to accomplish."
> MONDAY'S LINEUP: 1. Chris Coghlan LF; 2. Emilio Bonifacio 3B; 3. Hanley Ramirez SS; 4. Jorge Cantu 1B; 5. Jeremy Hermida RF; 6. Dan Uggla 2B; 7. John Baker C; 8. Cody Ross CF; 9. Andrew Miller P.