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Tigers' Anibal Sanchez feeling more comfortable with a hybrid windup

Sanchez's windup adjustment is a cross between the extreme and a non-existent turn.

Duane Burleson/Getty Images

DETROIT -- Anibal Sanchez is going back to his old windup. Kind of.

Until Thursday afternoon, Sanchez had been working with a significantly subdued version of his twist windup. After four starts, though, he wasn't comfortable, and it took too much of his concentration away from everything else he was working on.

But going back entirely to his old windup wasn't going to work, either. So, he made a compromise with himself, and decided to split the difference (a decision he reached on his own). Tuesday was the first time he employed the latest adjustment in a game, and came away feeling more confident with his approach.

"I just try to do my back (turn) to throw more innings," Sanchez said. "My mechanics that I was working with earlier in the season is something that I don't feel comfortable with. I feel comfortable the way that I threw today. ... Yeah, it’s not quite like it was before. That (other windup), I don’t want to (use).

"I don’t want to turn that much, because that’s when the ball starts getting up, and my arm starts getting lazy ... I just want to throw the way that I do early in the game today."

The adjustment left Sanchez with mixed results, but he felt comfortable. He struck out nine batters and gave up just two runs on three hits, but he also walked seven. Those walks marked the second-highest total of his career, falling one shy of his career-high eight batters walked in 2009 with the Miami Marlins.

Even with the inconsistencies, Sanchez was getting plenty of swings and misses, a marked improvement from his previous outings. The speed on his pitches were back and there was plenty of late movement. Manager Brad Ausmus remarked that at times Sanchez looked like the pitcher that struck out a franchise-high 17 Braves batters on April 26, 2013.

Other times, his command suffered. Because Sanchez is still tinkering so heavily with just about everything, he appeared erratic at times. Sanchez has never been one to hold runners well, but Thursday he allowed Billy Burns to steal second and then third. That run came around to score, and the next inning he gave up a leadoff home run.

However, Sanchez did not have a hard time getting movement on his pitches. Far from it.

"Oh yeah it was moving everywhere," Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "Sometimes I think that's why I think he fell behind, because it was moving more than what he was expecting. If you don't know how to harness it, obviously it can be (detrimental). He's done it in the past, he just has to remember what he did, get the ball out a little earlier than he was, and throw strikes with it."

The Detroit Tigers hit the road for a short trip where they'll face the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians before returning home for three games. During that road stint, the team has one day off on Monday, which will give Sanchez an extra day of rest and time to work on everything he's been tinkering with.

For now, at least Sanchez appears to have finally reached a comfort zone with his windup. The rest will come along eventually.