DETROIT — It's not the news anyone wanted to hear. As it stands right now, Anibal Sanchez is no longer a potential start for one of the two games for Saturday's doubleheader in Chicago against the White Sox. Beyond that, there is concern that Sanchez could be out for the remainder of the season after suffering a setback on Monday.
Any injury bodes poorly for the Tigers at this point in the season, but another blow to the Tigers' starting pitching staff twists the knife. Sanchez is currently eligible to return from the disabled list and if he started on Saturday it would have eliminated the need for yet another minor league start. That is no longer the case. "It's obviously kind of set his schedule back," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. (h/t Matthew Mowery, Oakland Press)
Sanchez had thrown up to a distance of 150 feet with no issues on Monday, and it wasn't until he threw his change-up at 60 feet on flat ground that he felt any pain. Unable to move his arm, Sanchez was sent to have an ultrasound in order to determine the cause. The culprit was old scar tissue that Sanchez had torn, and that has everyone, including Sanchez, worried.
"It's something like when you got a needle inside you, and you try to move it — that's the pain, like that," Sanchez said. "It really hurt. It's nothing like what I feel when I had my shoulder or elbow issue before. This kind of pain kill me when I feel it."
The difference between Sanchez's old injury and this latest tear, is how he has felt the day after. Sanchez said he's been instructed by his doctor that the best thing he can do is to wait for the pain to subside completely, and then resume throwing. There isn't going to be a quick fix or a band-aid for this setback, not at this point anyway.
"The first time it happened, it was the same feeling, the same feeling like yesterday," Sanchez said. "Like I can't even move my arm. But today is different. I got all motion. I think I'm back to the first day I got it."
There is no way to determine just how long Sanchez will be lost to the Tigers at this point, but Ausmus and Sanchez both feel that the fact that Sanchez has full range of motion the day after feeling pain is potentially good news. "We were encouraged by how he felt today," Ausmus said.
On one hand the current situation is a worst-case scenario. On the other, Sanchez said he feels like it's good news. There is still soreness but range of motion isn't an issue, and the fact that it's a tear from old tissue rather than a new injury altogether gave Sanchez reason for hope.
"The ultrasound say I got full motion, and I feel really good on that," Sanchez said. "Right now, I'm just like back at the first day, heating and cooling the area. See what I'm going to do in the next few days."
Given there are only 32 games left in the regular season, the Tigers are going to need to make a determination on how to fill Sanchez's spot in the rotation. Shortly after meeting with reporters, Sanchez emerged from a closed meeting with Ausmus, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand, and President and GM Dave Dombrowski, dismissing further discussion.
At this point, the "one day at a time" approach is the only approach, but Sanchez may be lost for the season if the healing is anything but speedy. Of course, that in itself is cause for concern but the Tigers don't have any other options right now.
"Especially with the situation we are right now, of course I'm concerned," Sanchez said. "I don't like being on the bench, just seeing everything happen. I know the team is going to do very well, we're going to start playing better. Personally, I'm a very competitive person, and I like being on the mound all of the time."