Anibal sharp in first relief outing with Tigers

After six-plus weeks on DL, righty tosses scoreless frame in return

Anibal sharp in first relief outing with Tigers

DETROIT -- By the time Rick Porcello's night was over Friday, the only suspense left on the Tigers' side of an 11-4 loss to the Twins was Anibal Sanchez's Tigers relief debut. Eventually, he got it. Whether it took too long was a matter in question.

To many who have been anticipating Sanchez in a relief role, his return was a chance to try to salvage a game that had gotten out of hand quickly. To manager Brad Ausmus, Sanchez's first game action in seven weeks was about getting him acclimated.

"Well, the damage was done pretty quickly," Ausmus said, "so there wasn't much time to get him in there. But generally, I've mentioned this the last couple days: I wanted his first inning to kind of be a stress-free inning. I didn't want him coming out of the bullpen for the first time in years having a tie game in the bottom of the ninth. In one regard, it's kind of nice that we were able to do that. I'd rather the score was reversed, though."

Sanchez, who spent six-plus weeks on the disabled list with a right pectoral muscle strain, needed just 14 pitches to retire the Twins on one hit in the seventh. His fastball seemingly reflected the absence and the change of role, topping out at 92 mph, and he did not have a swing and miss. Still, he was effective.

"Today was the first test for my arm," he said. "Both pitch, location, everything is fine."

When the inning was over, so was he. Ausmus wanted to keep Sanchez to an inning to get acclimated, and also to keep him available for potentially another appearance Sunday.

"I'd like to get him into one more game," Ausmus said, "but trying to win the division takes precedence."

Sanchez made his second career relief appearance. His first came with the Marlins in 2006, when he replaced former Tiger Brian Moehler in the first inning.

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