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Anibal throws sim game, on track for Sunday

BALTIMORE -- The forecast here for Tuesday looked bad enough that the Tigers moved Anibal Sanchez's simulated game up a day. The forecast for Sanchez's return to the Tigers' rotation is looking clearer for Sunday night in Boston.

Sanchez threw 60 pitches to Tigers hitters over four simulated innings, or a quartet of 15-pitch innings, and felt fine.

"I was able to work on all my pitches, my mechanics," Sanchez said later Monday. "Everything is pretty good right now. I don't have anything [that's an issue]. I don't feel any kind of soreness in my fingers."

The blister on Sanchez's right middle finger has long since gone, and the skin has regrown, so there wasn't really much question about his readiness on that front. The session was meant more to get him back used to facing hitters again in game-like situations without a rehab start.

"His stuff looked good," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Everything was thumbs-up. We'll wait and see how he feels tomorrow."

Sanchez said he has no question he'll feel fine on Tuesday. He said he remains on track to pitch Sunday night against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. It would be his first start in three weeks after a blister busted open on his right middle finger in the third inning at Minnesota on April 26.

Ausmus would not directly answer whether Sanchez would replace Robbie Ray, the starting prospect who has delivered two standout starts in Sanchez's place, but he left the distinct impression that's the likely option.

One option he did dismiss was putting Ray in the bullpen full time, though he said he could use Ray later on this week in a relief spot if they're in a pinch.

"I think he needs to pitch as a starting pitcher," Ausmus said. "He needs to learn and grow."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.
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