Injured Detroit Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez made further progress toward rejoining the roster by pitching a simulated game in Kansas City this morning.
Sanchez threw 45 pitches, three innings of 15 pitches, facing live batters for the first time since he exited mid-game in his last appearance, August 8 against the Blue Jays. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day due to a strained pectoral muscle in his right side.
If Sanchez suffers no setbacks in the days after participating in the simulated game, manager Brad Ausmus stated the right-hander could be activated Wednesday or Thursday.
After stopping a rehab outing short due to severe pain while working out in late August, Sanchez stated he was concerned his season was over. A return to the starting rotation is out of the question, as there isn't enough time left in the season to stretch out Sanchez to starter innings. But the 30-year-old has improved to the point where pitching out of the bullpen appears to be in his immediate future.
Neither Ausmus or Sanchez are concerned about a change in focus or preparation by pitching out of the bullpen
"The bigger concern is he takes a long time to get ready [warming up]," Ausmus said. "But in talking to him about it, he said he wasn't worried about it at all. He said he takes that time to get ready because he's preparing for six or seven innings. And if he's down there, it wouldn't be an issue to get ready quickly for an inning or two."
At the time of his injury, Sanchez had an 8–5 record, 3.45 ERA, 2.71 FIP and a rotation low 1.096 WHIP in 125 innings. He could be a massive boost to Detroit's questionable back-end of the bullpen, though it's yet to be officially decided how Sanchez will be used after his return.