Aníbal Sánchez’s final line screams needed to get his work in. Sánchez, 38, and back on the mound after a year away from the game in 2021, competing for a spot on the Nationals’ big league roster, gave up 12 hits, three walks, and 10 earned runs in four innings of work in the 29-8 loss Washington’s club suffered through in their Grapefruit League game with St. Louis on Wednesday.
Five of the hits, four of the runs, and one of the walks he allowed came in a long first inning, and he was pulled from the mound at 40 pitches total in a four-run second, then returned to get more work in the third (it’s Spring Training), and Sánchez worked around a walk in a scoreless frame, before the veteran gave up a leadoff homer by Paul Goldschmidt, three other hits, and three more runs in the fourth inning of what ended up an 89-pitch outing.
The Cardinals would go on to score 15 runs in the eighth in the 26-hit exhibition, but as they always say, the results in Spring Training don’t really matter.
Sánchez, a 15-year veteran hoping for an opportunity to play a 16th big league campaign, knows that as well as anyone.
He took a year off from baseball last season, and he’s trying to get back to the big leagues.
“Coming from like a year off I think be healthy is the important thing,” he said after the start in West Palm Beach, FL’s FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
“Results or whatever happens after that is something that I don’t control, but I feel healthy and strong and after 90 pitches I’m still throwing pretty good, and for me that’s a positive thing.”
“We gave up a lot of hits. We fell behind a lot of hitters,” manager Davey Martinez said after the lopsided loss, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“But we’ve just got to get our work in and get ready for April 7. To me, that’s the ultimate goal right now: Get ready for April 7. And it’s March 30.”
“I’m just working on being ahead in the count,” Sánchez said of his approach on the mound in the outing. “I don’t want to be afraid of everything that happened today and try to be around the strike zone, I just want to pound the strike zone, and that’s what I want and that’s what I need in Spring Training. But, at the end the result is the result. I’m not going to say I feel bad the way that I pitched, but the result is probably not what everybody wanted.”
As his manager said, during the regular season, Sánchez would likely have taken a different approach to his work and trying to get out of the trouble he was in, using his changeup and curve more than he did.
“He was throwing sliders and cutters a little bit more. I’m really not concerned about him,” Martinez said. “He got his work in.”
Top pitching prospect Cade Cavalli, whose participation was a question mark beforehand, with the club deciding between having him get his work in in a big league game, in relief behind Sánchez, or in a minor league game where they could be sure he’d get his work in, gave up eight hits and 11 runs, 10 earned, over 2 1⁄3 IP out of the bullpen.
“They hit me around,” Cavalli told reporters, as quoted on MASN, after the outing.
“I was in the zone for most of the time. Obviously, I got a little fastball-heavy. Just like: ‘Hey, hit it at someone at some point!’ But you can’t give in like that. I’ll learn from it.”