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Sanchez looking for fresh start in Kansas City

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SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP)

Jonathan Sanchez wasn't surprised when the San Francisco Giants dealt him to the Kansas City Royals during the offseason.

He'd spent two long stints on the disabled list in 2011, dealing with left biceps tendinitis and a severe left ankle sprain. He was limited to 19 starts and won four games, and with a deep rotation around him, the Giants decided that he was expendable.

Finally, after years of rumors.

''Since I got to the big leagues in 2006, there were rumors I was going to be traded,'' Sanchez said during training camp this week. ''I was going to Boston, New York and everywhere. I said one day it's going to happen and it was this year. I can be a free agent after this year and they couldn't cut me. I said, `OK, this is going to be the time for me to go somewhere else.'''

The Giants, in search of offense, landed Melky Cabrera in the trade. The outfielder hit .305 during a resurgent 2011 season, but the Royals already believed they have a replacement in Lorenzo Cain that just needed an opportunity to crack the starting lineup.

The trade fit for all parties involved.

''I thank the Giants for giving me the opportunity to play in the big leagues for almost six years,'' Sanchez said. ''It's a new life, a new team, a new league, a new color - blue. I think I look good in blue. When you get to this clubhouse, you see the energy of these young guys and you just can't wait until the games start. This is exciting. It was my time to move on.''

Sanchez has been an enigma on the mound.

He once threw a no-hitter for the Giants, and was dominant down the stretch in 2010, beating San Diego in the final game of the season to clinch the NL West title. He also shut down the Philadelphia Phillies in the playoffs, en route to San Francisco winning the World Series.

But along with his overpowering stuff - he's average 9.37 strikeouts per game since 2008, third-best in the majors - he's also been erratic. Sanchez led the NL with 96 walks in 2010, and he walked five or more six times in his first 16 starts last season.

''I like to strike out people. That's the way I pitch,'' he said. ''I walk guys, (but) as long as they don't score, I'm good.''

An illustration of that came in back-to-back starts in September 2010. Sanchez held the Padres to one hit in five innings, walking seven but not allowing any to score. He followed that by striking out a career-high 12 against the Los Angeles Dodgers without a single walk.

''Everybody saw a couple of years ago what he did,'' said former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, who signed with the Royals in November. ''It's very fun to watch when he's on his game.''

Sanchez's best moment came in July 2009, when he tossed a no hitter against the Padres.

He'd been sent to the bullpen after a miserable start to the season, but was told he would be starting the game. The coaching staff gave him a limit of 60 pitches, but his stuff was electric.

Sanchez said as the innings mounted, manager Bruce Bochy ''didn't know what to do - are we going to take him out or leave him out there?'' Sanchez finished the no-hitter with 110 pitches, 77 of them for strikes, while striking out 11 and walking none.

''He comes with a good track record,'' said pitching coach Dave Eiland, who was hired in the offseason to overhaul the Royals' staff. ''He's pitched in big games. He's pitched a no-hitter. He's pitched on a team that won the World Series. He's a good addition.''

Notes: OF Paulo Orlando, attempting to become the first Brazilian-born player to reach the major leagues, sustained a sports hernia in his first big league camp with Kansas City. Orlando is headed to Philadelphia to be evaluated. He hit .305 with Double-A Northwest Arkansas last season. ... LHP Jose Mijares, signed as a free agent, is the only pitcher or catcher not in camp. He's had visa issues in his native Venezuela. ... C Manny Pina ''tweaked'' his right knee during workouts Wednesday, manager Ned Yost said. He'll continue to be evaluated.

Tagged: Royals, Giants, Jonathan Sanchez

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