Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Anibal shows versatility in strong Braves debut

Veteran right-hander yields two runs in four frames vs. Astros
Special to MLB.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A week ago, Anibal Sanchez didn't know what his fate would be after he was given his unconditional release from the Twins, whose acquisition of Lance Lynn made Sanchez expendable.

But on Friday, Sanchez received a call from the Braves with an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. And on Sunday, the veteran right-hander took the mound for the first time in an Atlanta uniform.

View Full Game Coverage

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A week ago, Anibal Sanchez didn't know what his fate would be after he was given his unconditional release from the Twins, whose acquisition of Lance Lynn made Sanchez expendable.

But on Friday, Sanchez received a call from the Braves with an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. And on Sunday, the veteran right-hander took the mound for the first time in an Atlanta uniform.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's a blessing," Sanchez said after the Braves' 6-3 win against the defending World Series champion Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Sanchez, 34, allowed two runs on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts during his four-inning debut for the Braves. Both runs he allowed came in the fourth inning after he held the potent Astros lineup in check through the first three innings. He retired the side in order in the first on only seven pitches.

"You can tell the guy knows how to pitch," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He can change speeds, he can use both sides of the plate. He's been pitching very well for a long time."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Snitker acknowledged that Sanchez might not still have the sharpness and power that has enabled him to log 12 years in the Major Leagues, but he said the Braves will give the right-hander a chance to possibly earn a spot in the rotation.

"We'll see. I guess we'll go with it for a while and just evaluate him," Snitker said, adding that his first impression was a positive one. "That [Astros] lineup is a good barometer. Those guys are pretty good, as we know."

Sanchez has a career 90-94 record and 4.09 ERA. He showed signs of his old self in his final four starts for the Tigers last season, posting a 2.74 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 23 innings. He was scheduled to pitch in relief on Sunday, but he was given the starting nod after Scott Kazmir was scratched due to an injury to his left jaw he sustained Friday.

"I think everything came out good, especially because I've had about 2 1/2 weeks since I pitched in a game and was just starting to get into Spring Training," Sanchez said of his effort against the Astros, after having pitched twice in relief appearances this spring.

"The communication with [catcher Kurt] Suzuki was there. ... I just tried to [have] really good command and sequence and keep those guys off balance. I don't want to put any pressure on myself right now, but it's a blessing to be here. Anytime I've got a uniform, I just want to give it my best, and I'm going to put my whole heart into it on the field."

Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves, Anibal Sanchez