SACRAMENTO — In a season filled with concerns, there is one more for Aaron Sanchez.
The Giants righty, who was expected to go 3-4 innings Thursday in his third rehab start with Triple-A Sacramento, instead was removed after 1 1/3 innings and 50 pitches after calling for a trainer, who examined his throwing hand. A source said Sanchez had a blister. His last pitch was a fastball outside the zone to Salt Lake’s Jo Adell, which walked him, and Sanchez immediately began checking out his hand.
Before his exit, the start was a struggle. Of his 28 first-inning pitches, just half were strikes. Of his 50, 23 were strikes. He walked four — while recording the same number of outs — and allowed three hits to the Angels’ affiliate. He was charged with four runs, though three occurred after he left. Gregory Santos entered with the bases loaded, and each baserunner came around to score because Santos was wild.
Sanchez has a track record of blister issues. Much of his 2017 season with the Blue Jays — a year after he was an All-Star — was erased because of recurring blisters that limited him to 36 innings. He had a procedure that year to remove part of a fingernail as a response to the blisters.
Blisters have not been his issue this season, which has been a strange one. His ERA in 28 1/3 big-league innings is 3.18, and yet he has not recorded an out in the sixth inning or hit the 90-pitch mark. His velocity was notably down, his fastball averaging 89.9 mph this year after an offseason showcase that saw him in the upper-90s. On Thursday, his fastball touched 93 mph, according to the Sutter Health Park radar gun, but lived 90-92 mph.
He last pitched with the Giants May 4, and then was placed on the injured list with right biceps tightness. Before this rehab assignment, he visited with Dr. Neal ElAttrache — never a good sign for pitchers — but was cleared.
Sanchez had missed the 2020 season while out following September 2019 shoulder surgery. He successfully made his return to an organization — the Giants signed him to a $4 million, incentive-laden deal — and to a major league mound, where he has pitched well even with diminished stuff.
He now has one more hurdle to clear before he becomes an option for a Giants team that also is without Logan Webb and has been using an opener, followed by Sammy Long, every fifth day.