It didn’t matter that Sánchez didn’t record a strikeout. The Nationals were swinging to weak contact. There was a reason for that: His fastball was twice clocked as high as 101 miles per hour. His other pitches -- changeup, slider and sinker -- were just as deadly.
“During this outing, I can say that I was more focused on throwing strikes,” Sánchez said. “I saw the results. It was more about control today.”
With less than two weeks to go until Opening Day, Sanchez believes he will be ready when it’s time to pitch in a regular-season game.
“I’m very happy and grateful to share this rotation with these guys. But I will keep working really hard and ready to do my job at the beginning of the season,” he said.
An outing to forget
Marlins left-hander Gio González made his spring debut against the Nationals and it was an outing he would like to forget after he allowed seven runs in one-third of an inning.
González made two appearances in the game. In the sixth inning he faced six batters and didn’t record an out as the Nationals scored four runs. Manager Don Mattingly came to the mound and gave González words of encouragement before taking him out of the game in favor of Jake Fishman.
González came back the following inning and didn’t fare any better, allowing four hits and getting only one out before he was taken out of the game. González didn’t have any excuses for his outing. He said his bullpen sessions and live batting practice sessions worked well before Saturday’s outing.
“It was just one of those nights,” González said. “Everything was working, as far as no issues with the arm. It took me a while to get to this point. Mechanically, I have to get things back together, work with [pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] a little bit and put the pieces together.”
Asked if there was enough time to show how good he is on the mound before Opening Day, González said, “I have to make time, somehow. You have to roll with the punches.”
The way Mattingly sees it, he is turning the page. González is a veteran who has had a lot of success in the big leagues.
“It’s Spring Training. He is a veteran guy. You know what he can do,” the skipper said.
Keeping his eye on the ball
Marlins first baseman Jesús Aguilar has only one strikeout in 32 plate appearances this spring, which has impressed Mattingly.
Before this season, Aguilar was known as a power hitter who struck out often. Aguilar averaged 123 strikeouts over 162 games.
“He looks great,” Mattingly said. “More than not striking out, it has been more about what his at-bats look like. Not striking out is a plus. I always felt he is a guy that always put the ball in play for a big guy. He has a smaller swing. He uses the whole field. He is a guy that could always find contact when he wants to. He has swung the bat really well."
Barring any injuries, Marlins right-hander Pablo López will pitch the second regular-season game against the Rays on April 2, according to Mattingly. The skipper already announced that right-hander Sandy Alcantara will be the Opening Day starter.