It has been a confounding few years for Blue Jays righty Aaron Sanchez, who has seen his promising career sidetracked by a series of finger problems. Of course, at just 26 years of age, there’s still every chance he can regain his trajectory — so long, that is, if he’s able to get back to full health. As John Lott of The Athletic examines (subscription required), Sanchez is preparing for Spring Training with ample optimism after undergoing surgery on his right index finger last fall. He first threw earlier this month but says he feels immense improvement already. Lott explains that Sanchez has found initial success with a steady, daily stretching program to prepare his joints — one that’ll need to be integrated into a new, broader preparation regime once camp opens (and the season begins thereafter). Pitching through pain last year, Sanchez exhibited some velocity loss and a distinct lack of effectiveness. Though he actually managed a career-high 9.5% swinging-strike rate, due perhaps to ramped-up usage of his change at the expense of his once-dominant sinker, Sanchez drew less grounders than usual (a still-strong 49.1%) and struggled with free passes (5.0 per nine) as he struggled to stay in the zone (career-worst 40.5% zone rate). Needless to say, it would benefit both the Jays and Sanchez himself quite a bit if he’s able to author a turnaround. He’s slated to earn $3.9MM in his second-to-last season of team control.
A few more notes from the AL East …
- Speaking of injured hurlers from the division, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets that Red Sox righty Tyler Thornburg began his offseason throwing program earlier than usual this winter, adding that Thornburg’s shoulder has “tested out well” in the early-going. Boston has done nothing to address its bullpen this offseason after Joe Kelly left to sign with the Dodgers and Craig Kimbrel hit the open market, and if that pattern holds, they’ll need Thornburg and others to step up and contribute more than most would’ve expected heading into the offseason. Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski recently went on record to suggest that he doesn’t anticipate spending heavily on a closer, and recent reports have implied that the Sox may prefer to remain south of the top luxury tax line.
- There’s still very little certainty on the Orioles’ coaching staff, but Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com provides an update on a series of potential (in some cases likely) hires that could filter in as the Baltimore organization sets it staff. Kubatko writes that assistant hitting coach Howie Clark is expected to return in his previous role, while the organization may very well promote at least one staff member from the minor league ranks to help round out manager Brandon Hyde’s staff — specifically, Triple-A field coach Jose Hernandez, a 15-year MLB veteran who has since become a fixture in the O’s system. There’s other chatter in the post regarding how the Orioles may end up filling out their slate of coaches.