Anibal on track after successful simulated game

Anibal on track after successful simulated game

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The witty repartee between Anibal Sanchez and Andrew Romine was a good sign of how Sanchez and his arm were feeling, breaking up the Friday morning quiet on Kaline Field in Tigertown. Thirty pitches later, Sanchez was in even better spirits.

"I feel good," he said after his much-anticipated simulated game, the first time he has faced live hitters this spring. "Today's one of the first steps in recovery from my elbow inflammation, and I'm ready. I keep working."

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With a band of onlookers that included manager Brad Ausmus, general manager Al Avila and pitching coach Rich Dubee, Sanchez threw his full repertoire against Romine and a selection of Tigers Minor Leaguers, including former big leaguer Jordany Valdespin. Sanchez drew some swings and misses, induced some ground balls and found a rhythm.

When he talked with the assembly of officials, they talked about his delivery.

"It's a good sign when he's more concerned about his pitching and his mechanics and less concerned about his health," Ausmus said. "He's clearly concentrating on the pitching aspect and not the health aspect."

The health aspect is still a concern of his, but moreso on the illness side. While he has his voice back, he's still dealing with a bronchial ailment that has bothered him for the past week.

"With the cough and all that sickness, I don't feel good," Sanchez said. "It's really hard to catch my breath. But it is what it is. We're in Florida right now. There's a lot of pollen around. What can we do?"

Friday was Sanchez's first meeting with hitters this spring. He had been throwing bullpen sessions since returning from the triceps inflammation that had sidelined him for two weeks.

"I threw all of my pitches, tried to make really good sequences out there," Sanchez said. "When you face hitters on your own team, it's not the same, like a real game. So five days from now, I'm going to be on the mound, and we'll see after that."

That might not be a Grapefruit League game, either. While Sanchez now begins his between-starts routine to pitch every five days, Ausmus said his first start next Wednesday could be in a Minors camp game, also against Tigers Minor Leaguers, since their games don't begin until later in the month.

Either way, Sanchez will start building up his arm to be ready for the regular season.

"It's enough time," he said. "I think I have five starts from now."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.