Anibal Sanchez visits Dr. James Andrews, Tigers remain "hopeful" for return

Catherine Slonksnis

The Tigers have a treatment plan in place and aren't ruling out a return in the season, but they aren't discussing what that timetable is. Justin Verlander starts on Friday in Chicago and Joakim Soria is making progress.

DETROIT —  The Tigers are cautiously optimistic Anibal Sanchez could return before the season ends, but for now the Tigers are playing a waiting game while Sanchez undergoes treatment. Sanchez visited Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday for further diagnosis, who confirmed initial results with a follow-up ultrasound that Sanchez has a strained right pectoral muscle.

"He saw Dr. Andrews today and Dr. Andrews just confirmed what the diagnosis was here," Ausmus said. "He's prescribed a treatment option and still hopeful that he can be back before the season's out." (h/t Dana Wakiji, FOX Sports Detroit)

Sanchez was issued a treatment plan and the Tigers have a tentative schedule for when Sanchez will throw again, but the Tigers are mum on both accounts. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Dr. Andrews is "hopeful" for a cure and that while Sanchez will miss time in the lineup, surgery is not an option.

"That subject has not even been touched," Ausmus said. "Again, I'm not a doctor but that was not the diagnosis, that was not the prescription for the cure, so to speak. That word has not even been uttered in regards to this injury."

Meanwhile, Justin Verlander will start on Friday in Chicago against the White Sox without any pitch count limitations. Verlander's pitches weren't limited when he returned after missing one start, — he threw 105 in his last outing on August 23 — but he lasted just 5 2/3 innings before being pulled with runners on in Minnesota.

Despite a shortened outing, Verlander gave the Tigers their most solid outing of the series against the Twins, one they ended up splitting even though it didn't feel like it with two blowout losses. In some ways the game was a positive turning point in a long series of unfortunate events that had resulted from both Verlander and Anibal Sanchez being pulled for their respective injuries mid-game.

With Verlander is now back in the rotation and no caution flags being tossed up, it appears the Tigers have dodged another bullet. The Tigers will have to come up with a solution if Sanchez is lost for some time, but it's only one problem, where before there were two.

""If (Verlander is) capable of pitching deep into games, we certainly would allow him to pitch deep into games," Ausmus said. "Obviously that would be a great complement to Price, Scherzer and Porcello. If we get those four all rolling at the same time, you feel pretty good about your chances every time they pitch."

Thursday the Tigers will send Kyle Lobstein to the mound to face the Yankees in the final game of a three-game series. A tall order, but if he can go the same distance as his first outing on August 23, at the very minimum, the Tigers could do worse.

Lobstein went 5 2/3 innings in relief, giving up three runs on four hits and walking four. It's not ideal, but the Tigers are hitting well and a formerly taxed bullpen has been able to recover. Max Scherzer will take the mound for one of Saturday's twin bill games, but the Tigers haven't yet announced what game that will be.

The Tigers are also keeping an eye on Joakim Soria, who is making progress on his return to the Tigers rotation. There isn't a firm timetable for his return yet, but Soria threw on back-to-back days for the first time on Wednesday. Soria had also thrown when the team was in Tampa and Minnesota.

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