Buffalo Sunday starter Sanchez says he'll face Houston next

Sanchez says he’ll return for Astros’ series

By Scott Langdon
Canadian Baseball Network

BUFFALO, NY _ Blue Jays’ right-hander Aaron Sanchez expects to be on the mound at Rogers Centre in Toronto when the league-leading Houston Astros visit for a four-game series beginning July 6.

The righthander credits a heckler at a recent rehab start for Dunedin Blue Jays in the Florida State League for helping to spur his return.

“I was using that game to try to find a rhythm,” Sanchez said. “My fastball was sitting low nineties. I started to get hit around a bit toward the end and a guy behind the plate was on me pretty good. He annoyed me a bit so I humped a fastball up at 97. He went silent and I felt great. That’s when I started to feel I was on my way back,” Sanchez said with a smile.

Speaking in the clubhouse of the triple-A Buffalo Bisons Friday afternoon, Sanchez was enthusiastic about a just-completed side session.

“I just finished my side a few minutes ago,” said Sanchez. “It went great. I was able to snap off some curveballs. No issues with the blister at all.”

Sanchez is scheduled for another rehab start Sunday at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo as the Bisons host the Syracuse Chiefs, International League affiliate of the Washington Nationals. He thinks he came back off the disabled list too fast when the blister first flared up, but there was a good reason.

“It was probably too soon, but we were short on arms so it was necessary at the time. But it became obvious I just had to give the finger the proper time to heal,” he said.

While he believes the finger issues are behind him, a reminder is never far away. His cell phone is well stocked with gruesome-looking photographs of the blister at various stages of the injury. 

“The casual fan might wonder how something like a blister can put you on the disabled list. But the last thing you want to do is hurt your shoulder or another part of your body because you’re compensating for the finger injury,” he said.

Sanchez remains confident that the Jays can return to their winning ways for the remainder of the season.

“Even when we had that awful April we weren’t playing badly. We were just losing games because we couldn’t get a big hit or we would make a bad pitch,” he said.

“But I’m confident in our guys. There are a lot of seasoned pros in our locker room who know when and how to turn it up. I’m learning to do that, too.  It’s a long season,” he added.

There are many Blue Jays’ fans across Canada who are hoping he is right as the Jays continue to struggle to reach the .500 mark. Maybe they should cross their fingers and hope a certain heckler from Florida decides to head north to Toronto when the Astros hit town.