For Sanchez, results a mere afterthought

Fireballer pleased with performance despite unsightly stat line

For Sanchez, results a mere afterthought

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Results are an afterthought during the opening weeks of Spring Training, and that was pretty evident following Aaron Sanchez's first outing of the year.

Sanchez consistently hit 96-97 mph on his fastball and made a point of working on his secondary pitches. The most important thing was that he felt good and was able to repeat his delivery.

Everything else took a back seat, which is why Sanchez said he got what he needed out of the outing despite allowing five runs -- two earned -- on four hits and one walk in Tuesday's 8-7 loss to the Pirates.

"I think today was just going out there and making sure I felt good," Sanchez said. "The ball came out well all day. I felt like, today, maybe my pitches were a little bit straighter than I'd like them to be. But getting more mound time [later] in Spring Training, I feel like I'm right where I needed to be after this game."

The big point of emphasis for Sanchez early in camp will be trying to refine his curveball. It's something that he didn't have to use much out of the bullpen during the second half of the season, but it'll be key to his future development as a starter.

Sanchez is competing for the fifth spot of the rotation, but even if he ends up in the bullpen this year, some of this early work could pay off down the road. The goal is to prepare as a starter to at least lessen the possible setbacks that a relief role might have on him this year.

"Being a starter, you have to incorporate every single pitch," Sanchez said. "I had a chance to put some guys away; one was a hit. But I'm right where I need to be. This was the first game of Spring Training, so just build off that and it can only get better from there."

Toronto is expected to make a decision on Sanchez's role at some point during the middle of the month. Sanchez was nearly flawless out of the bullpen last year, allowing just four runs over 33 innings.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.