TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez's return from the disabled list lasted all of one inning before he was removed because of a split nail on his right middle finger.
The nail split horizontally on the same finger where he had a blister issue that plagued him since Spring Training. He underwent a surgical procedure earlier this month to remove a portion of the nail to speed up the healing process but problems returned during Sunday during the Blue Jays' 3-1 victory over the Rays.
Sanchez was making his first appearance since April 14, but he faced just three batters in the first inning and threw 13 pitches before having to leave the game. He was replaced by right-hander Dennis Tepera, who combined with five other relievers to allow one run over eight strong innings.
"I wouldn't have been out there if I [thought] it was something that would happen," Sanchez said. "We really didn't know going into today it was going to be an issue. I think, once you get into game mode, game speed, pressure on that nail starts to disperse in certain areas and maybe it wasn't strong enough because it was cut. Honestly, we don't know. We'll go from here."
Sanchez said he felt a little bit of additional pressure on his nail while warming up in the bullpen, but did not expect it to become a problem. He then took the mound for the start of the game and, after issuing a leadoff walk to Corey Dickerson, Sanchez looked down at his and realized his finger was bleeding all over the place.
The 22-year-old initially remained in the game and struck out Kevin Kiermaier before getting Evan Longoria to ground into an inning-ending doubleplay. Sanchez said he hoped to remain in the game, but once the Blue Jays coaching staff saw the blood he was immediately removed and sent back into the clubhouse for further evaluations.
It's not immediately evident how long Sanchez will be out, but it's pretty clear he will not be making his next start. With an off-day looming on Thursday, the Blue Jays will not require a fifth starter until May 9, and the hope could be that lefty J.A. Happ (elbow inflammation) will be able to return by then. That would keep the current unit of Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman, Francisco Liriano and Mat Latos intact.
"It's still frustrating, but I did everything I was supposed to do and everything I've done before to be ready for this start," Sanchez said. "It was just one of those things where you don't even think about the nail splitting in a different direction. It's just something that occurred and now that it occurred we handle it and we move on."
At some point on Monday, Sanchez plans to speak with the hand specialist from Kansas City who performed the procedure to discuss what the next steps should be. He also reached out to several players, including Mets starter Noah Syndergaard, who have gone through similar issues to see what, if anything, helped their recovery.
The Blue Jays have yet to announce any roster moves, but it seems likely Sanchez will require another stint on the 10-day DL. That's something he is still hoping to avoid.
"I don't know, hopefully not," Sanchez said when asked if he would be missing additional time. "I've talked to other pitchers who have gotten this. I spoke to Syndergaard about his issue, split nail, kind of the same thing. I don't know. I hope not."