DETROIT -- Anibal Sanchez's return to the Tigers' rotation lasted just one batter and five pitches before the veteran right-hander was hit by a comebacker and had to leave Tuesday night's 13-2 win over the Royals with a right calf contusion. X-rays were negative.
Sanchez, making his first start since leaving his Aug. 16 start at the Rangers with a left hamstring strain, took a comebacker off the bat of Royals leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield. The ball struck Sanchez's right leg and rolled. Sanchez had enough strength in his legs to run it down, but he threw wildly into right field for an infield single and an error.
Sanchez was noticeably limping as head athletic trainer Kevin Rand, manager Brad Ausmus and umpires checked on him. Sanchez tested out his leg strength, but after throwing his first warmup pitch fine, he pulled out of his second in mid-delivery.
"I just got hit in the right spot," Sanchez said. "I don't feel that it hit me pretty good in the spot that it hit. I got like a shock through my knee, through my ankle. That's why I wasn't able to push, even on the practice pitches that I threw."
Sanchez limped back to the clubhouse with Rand. Myles Jaye, who made 25 starts at Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo this season before earning a September callup as a long reliever, replaced Sanchez and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his first Major League win.
Sanchez is day to day.
"Right now, I have movement," he said, "but I have to walk really slow. I can't push anything hard. Let's see how it is tomorrow."
The Tigers' rotation is already depleted by injuries and transactions. Justin Verlander was dealt to the Astros at the waiver Trade Deadline on Thursday. Michael Fulmer is shut down for at least the next week as he waits a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on the ulnar neuritis hampering his right elbow. Jordan Zimmermann is seeing a neck specialist on Wednesday in Dallas, where he's expecting to receive a second nerve block injection to address recurring neck stiffness that began bothering him last summer and reappeared his last couple starts.
Sanchez was one of just two current starters on the Opening Day roster, joining Matthew Boyd. Buck Farmer, Chad Bell and Artie Lewicki currently round out the rotation. If Sanchez has to miss a start, Jaye could become the latest member of the Mud Hens' rotation to join the Tigers rotation.