Sanchez showing flashes of brilliance


MIAMI -- At least for now, rookie pitcher Anibal Sanchez is part of the Marlins' rotation. How he pitches in the near future will determine whether he stays there.

"I don't want to go back to the minors," Sanchez told ESPNdeportes.com. "I don't want to imagine going back to the minor leagues, nor do I want to be sent to the bullpen but that depends on how well I pitch."

Sanchez, 22, has had mixed results in his first year in the majors. In his debut, the right-hander shut out the powerful Yankees for 5 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium. But then he was pounded by Boston and Washington for 12 runs in 9 1/3 innings combined. He then came back, and in three starts, limited Houston, Washington and Atlanta to one run in 21 frames. In his victory over the Astros, the Venezuelan native outdueled Roger Clemens.

But then in his last start Sunday in Philadelphia, Sanchez gave up eight hits and eight runs in 4 1/3 innings to raise his ERA from 3.00 to 4.46.

"Learning to pitch at the major league level is a process that takes some time, and I think I'm adapting," said Sanchez, who is 4-1 in seven starts with Florida.

At the same time Sanchez was having his ups and downs on the mound, the pitcher he replaced in the rotation, Brian Moehler, returned from a foot injury.

Now Marlins manager Joe Girardi has to decide between Sanchez and Moehler for the last spot in the rotation.

"Sanchez will take his regular turn in the rotation on Friday against the Dodgers," Girardi said Tuesday.

"The way he's pitching, I think it would be a mistake to take [Sanchez] out of the starting rotation," Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo said. "The guy can throw all his pitches for strikes: two types of fastballs, a slider and changeup. And he's not afraid to use them."

Sanchez, originally signed by the Red Sox in 2001, was part of the trade that also sent Hanley Ramirez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia to the Marlins for Josh Beckett, Guillermo Mota and Mike Lowell.

He was called up from Double-A on June 25 for an emergency start against the Yankees, and earned a 5-0 win.

"Every start is special, but I'll never forget my debut," he said. "I'd like to have a lot more special games this year."

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.