LAKELAND, Fla. -- The first game action for Anibal Sanchez this spring was simulated, a few Tigers Minor Leaguers on Wednesday morning on one of the back fields at Tigertown. The action on his pitches was real.
So was the confidence in Sanchez's voice following his 45-pitch, three-inning session.
"I feel good," Sanchez said. "Fantastic."
The last adjective is not a term Sanchez has often used. He hadn't used that description during his slow recovery from triceps inflammation. A bronchial illness left him unable to say much of anything for a week. He appears to be over both.
Assuming Sanchez still feels good, he will get into Grapefruit League action Monday against the Phillies at Joker Marchant Stadium, with a pitch count around 60. That would put him in line for three starts before Spring Training wraps up.
Sanchez hasn't counted.
"The thing I just know is I'm going to be ready for the season," Sanchez said.
Sanchez might not be ready to slot in for the home opener April 8 against the Yankees, but he could be ready to take his turn later in the season-opening homestand, manager Brad Ausmus said Wednesday afternoon. The Tigers could go without a fifth starter until April 12 against the Pirates.
Sanchez threw all of his pitches during the simulated game, many of them with late movement. Working with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Sanchez struck out six of the 11 batters he faced. Of the four batters who put the ball in play, none was particularly solid contact.
"Command was good," Sanchez said. "Second inning, I start with four balls. That's the only walk that I had today, but the rest of the simulated game was really good. Location, arm motion, mechanics, everything was right there. That's most important right now.
"I threw everything. I threw like a normal game. Salty called [the game] really good. We worked a little bit on some stuff, but the rest, everything was fine."
Sanchez has three starts to work on his repertoire and stretch out his arm. He'll also build up his velocity in the process.
"Physically, I feel good," Sanchez said. "I'm not concerned about anything. Everything is a process. As a starting pitcher, you need to build the arm through Spring Training. That's what Spring Training is for, starting pitchers to stretch out their arm. I don't think too much if it's good today or bad today. I just want to be ready for my job during the season."
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.