DUNEDIN, Fla. — Aaron Sanchez’s first outing since last September went as well as the Blue Jays could have hoped with two scoreless innings in Friday’s Grapefruit League game against the Pirates during which his troublesome right index finger cooperated.
Sanchez, who underwent September surgery on a ligament in his right index finger, threw 24 pitches, allowing one walk while striking out one with a fastball that sat in the 93-95 m.p.h. range. Afterwards he said he was pleased with both his health and the results.
"Just going out there and feeling healthy, really," Sanchez said. "Letting some balls eat, letting some balls spin, felt good on some change-ups. The main thing was going out there and throwing strikes really. Today’s one of those days about getting engaged with where you’re at. I think I’m in good shape."
Moving forward, continued health will be key for Sanchez, whose last two seasons have been slowed by a series of finger issues.
"Obviously, there’s things to be working on," Sanchez said. "I’m happy with today, happy with where I’m at. It was a long off-season. To be able to go have an outing like that, a lot of things paid off this winter."
The right-hander threw 15 of his 24 pitches for strikes while mixing in his curve and change-up—an indication that his feel for the ball is returning. If that trend continues, Sanchez’s chances of returning to or near his 2016 form would increase.
"This off-season, I took a lot of time throwing from a shorter distance, making sure I do feel the ball coming off my finger before I even made that step and that jump through my throwing program," Sanchez said.