DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Aaron Sanchez's numbers this spring look a little jarring, but the Blue Jays don't seem concerned and the reigning American League ERA leader believes everything is going according to plan.
Sanchez declared himself ready for the regular season following Monday's 7-1 loss to the Phillies, in which he allowed five runs and threw 71 pitches over 3 1/3 innings. He has allowed 10 earned runs over 10 2/3 innings in the Grapefruit League season, but those spring numbers can be a little deceiving.
Sanchez, 24, spent the early part of spring working on his changeup, throwing it in counts he normally would not. That wasn't the case Monday, but it does explain some of the early numbers. And while Sanchez scattered his fastball in his latest performance, he doesn't see any reason to be worried.
"Physically, I feel stronger than I've ever been," said Sanchez, who went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA last year. "Obviously the work I did in the offseason, coming into camp and maintaining that, easing my way into games, I feel good. I feel strong. I feel ready to go. Just knocking down the days, I guess, from here."
Sanchez's performance this spring likely isn't something to be worried about, but there's an outside chance a blister on his right hand could be an issue. The third-year pitcher didn't mention the blister when speaking with the media following his outing, but after the game, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons revealed Sanchez had been dealing with the problem.
Gibbons said he hoped the blister wouldn't be an issue in the future, but he couldn't say for sure. The development does lend more credence to the Blue Jays opening the season with Sanchez as the No. 5 starter, because it will give him more time to get the issue taken care of. For now, Sanchez remains scheduled to make one more spring start before his first appearance of the regular season vs. Tampa Bay on April 8.
"Sanchy popped a blister on his finger, and I think it really affected him, but they swung it over there," Gibbons said. "Hopefully it's not a big deal, but I do know it was very tender."