Aníbal Sánchez gave up one run on two hits in two innings in his 2020 Grapefruit League debut last Tuesday in Roger Dean Stadium, where the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals met. Sánchez, who turned 36 this week, threw 26 pitches in his initial outing of the Spring, and he talked afterwards about feeling good on the mound in his first start of the year.
“I feel good,” Sánchez said.
“I felt comfortable with my location today, just a couple pitches yanked from my hand, but it’s the first day. I think everything is start working from that, and let’s see, I’m going to see the video tomorrow how everything came out from my arm.”
His focus this season, the 14-year veteran said, is getting off to a better start than he did in the first year of his 2-year/$19M deal with the Nationals.
Sánchez went (0-6) in his first nine starts, with a 5.10 ERA, 25 walks (5.32 BB/9), 41 Ks (8.72 K/9), and a .263/.353/.463 line against over 42 1⁄3 IP, and then turned his season around in a big way once he came off an IL stint for a hamstring injury, finishing the year with an 11-2 run over his final his final 21 outings, with a 3.42 ERA, 33 walks (2.40 BB/9), 93 Ks (6.77 K/9), and a .227/.282/.386 line against in 123 2⁄3 innings over that stretch.
“Definitely I want to start the way that I finished so right now I’m working hard to that,” the Nationals’ starter said.
“I’m just working every single day to just keep my mechanics closed. I don’t want to open like early in the season, I don’t want to elevate too many balls like early in the season last year.
“So I just want to [work] like the way that I finished last year, I finished with my — my fastball was way down, then normal, and hit the bottom of the corner of the strike zone, it helps me to be there late in the game.”
Sánchez is set to take on the New York Mets this afternoon in Grapefruit League action from what’s apparently now called Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, FL.