While we may have heard this tune before, it sounds like Aaron Sanchez is feeling healthy and confident about a strong performance in 2019.
Forgive me if you might have heard this before, but Aaron Sanchez is feeling optimistic about a fresh start and the health of his pitching hand.
When asked by TSN’s Scott Mitchell about how he’s feeling heading into the start of another Spring Training schedule, Sanchez replied with “just watch”. Interpret that as you will, but I think it’s safe to say that he’s feeling confident about his ability to stay healthy, and to regain the form that saw him become the 2016 American League ERA champion.
The former first round pick has done his part this winter, getting surgery on the troublesome finger on his pitching hand, and slowly but surely rehabbing throughout the offseason. By all accounts things have gone well, and his pitching coach Pete Walker also mentioned on Wednesday how excited he is about Sanchez and his teammate Marcus Stroman‘s season ahead.
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As I mentioned above however, we’ve heard this sort of thing from Sanchez and the team before. In fact, when I did a search for ‘Aaron Sanchez’ on Twitter while looking for Mitchell’s tweet, I found this short video from Sportnet’s James Cybulski, which was posted on Jan 12th, 2018. In it, Sanchez is flanked by Dalton Pompey, and he talks about how his finger and blister issues are “no longer a problem”, which obviously didn’t turn out to be the case last year.
Granted, his time spent on the disabled list was kicked off by a freak injury sustained by a falling suitcase, but regardless, it’s hard to have a lot of faith in Sanchez’s snake-bitten right hand. I even wrote about my lack of trust in his ability to stay healthy as recently as last month, when we heard that he “should” be ready on time for Spring Training. To me, as soon as I heard anything that wasn’t language of certainty, I automatically assumed he’d end up behind schedule.
I’m not a pessimistic person by nature, but it’s been frustrating watching Sanchez sit on the sidelines over the last couple of years, and eventually talent becomes secondary if a pitcher can’t stay on the mound. We’ve watched similar stories play out in Toronto for guys like Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan in the past, and I genuinely fear that Sanchez may follow a similar path.
For what it’s worth, I absolutely want to see him thrive in 2019 and for the remainder of his career, regardless of if he stays in Toronto once he eventually becomes a free agent. When he’s right he has the potential to pitch with the best in the game, as we saw in 2016. He’s only made 28 starts since that year, and he hasn’t quite recaptured that form again, but here’s hoping that 2019 is the year his career gets back on track.
It sounds like he’s starting the campaign off on the right foot, especially if he’s speaking confidently to guys like Mitchell, and is impressing his pitching coach enough that he’ll gush to the media about how things look. Still, you’ll have to forgive any of us if we need to see it before we believe it, however, at least Sanchez is telling us to “just watch”. We will be, and hopefully we’ll finally get to see the best version of him again, cause that guy is pretty damn good.