By Bob Elliott
Aaron Sanchez dropped his three-game appeal but not his plea of innocence.
Sanchez was fitted for a set of Major League Baseball suspenders to wear for three days for intentionally hitting Kansas City Royals’ Alcides Escobar on Sunday at the Rogers Centre.
“This way made sense,” Sanchez said told reporters Thursday afternoon. “I want this behind me. I’ve got 24 other guys to fight with for two months and hopefully longer. That’s my objective, to get this behind me and worry about what’s at hand: winning games.”
Sanchez started his three-game suspension Wednesday and will be able to return Saturday afternoon for the second game of the weekend series at Yankee Stadium.
Plate ump Jim Wolf had issued warnings in the first inning Sunday and when Sanchez entered in relief in the top of the eighth, told him about the warnings.
“I told him my ball had big-time sink, stay with me,” Sanchez said.
With two out his pitch his 2-0 Escobar on the knee. With great theatrics Wolf walked in front of the plate and tossed Sanchez.
Sanchez pointed to Josh Donaldson and asked “what about him?”
“Our guy got hit once and had two pitches up in his face,” said Sanchez.
The Jays said Wednesday that Sanchez would not be available to work on Wednesday as he had pitched four times in six days. Sanchez said he had been given two days off. The fear from the Jays end is that the ruling could come Friday and he would miss all three games in New York. The Jays have a seven-man bullpen without Sanchez.
“We talked about it, and he was in agreement,” Gibbons said. “We’ll just say, ‘Hey, let’s get it over with it and get it behind us. Now you don’t have to worry about it.”’
The Players Association, Sanchez and his agent and general manager Alex Anthopoulos were involved in the group decision.
“I would like to talk to somebody about it,” said Sanchez, who then caught himself adding “that being said, I don’t know if I will. It’s behind me. I’ll take my three games and I’ll move on, focus on winning a championship.”
Returning to normal: Once Sanchez is activated the Jays will likely drop a reliever and return to seven arms in the bullpen.
“I don’t think it’s ideal when you have eight you can use an extra guy on the bench,” Gibbons said. “Really we don’t have another true outfielder on the club.”
Gibbons short bench Thursday night consisted of catcher Russell Martin, first baseman Chris Colabello and infielder Munenori Kawasaki.
Ezequiel Carrera, who made 40 starts for the Jays before Ben Revere arrived from the Philadelphia Phillies, was put on waivers, cleared and is currently at triple-A Buffalo.
Lining up: While manager Gibbons said Russell Martin’s tender hand was fine, Martin was given the day off as he’s going to catch R.A. Dickey Friday night at Yankee Stadium and David Price Saturday afternoon. Justin Smoak was at first base, while Edwin Encarnacion was the DH.
Business just picked up: Average velocities on four-seam fastballs among Jays starters, according to MLB Statcast: David Price 94.5 mph, Drew Hutchison 92.7, Marco Estrada 89.7, Mark Buehrle 84.4 and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey 81.9.
First pitch: Elsa Hosk, a Victoria’s Secret Angel threw a strike to Hutchison. It wasn’t a strike? Shhhh, it’s a secret, but he back-handed the pitch like J.P. Arencibia.