Tigers notes: Sanchez ready for his Thursday start

Anibal Sanchez had a 3.00 ERA in three Grapefruit League starts, and didn't walk anybody while striking out nine in nine innings.

DETROIT — Detroit Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez didn’t expect to miss his first start of the season after developing shoulder inflammation late in spring training, and he won’t. Sanchez is scheduled to start Thursday afternoon’s series finale with the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park.

When asked Wednesday morning if he was 100 percent, Sanchez smiled and said, "It’s never 100 percent, but it’s how I feel on the day I pitch that matters. I feel great, and I just have to get ready to pitch."

Sanchez, who was 14-8 and led the American League with a 2.57 ERA while striking out 202 in 2013, had a start in Saturday’s exhibition with the Nationals rained out. He instead threw a simulated game Sunday in Detroit.

He’s ready to go.

Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones

"He’s ready to go," Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones said.

Detroit manager Brad Ausmus noted, "We’ll have to keep an eye on him — especially if the pitch count gets higher, and the weather is as bad as it’s supposed to be."

Cool, rainy weather is in the forecast for Thursday.

Sanchez had a 3.00 ERA in three Grapefruit League starts, and didn’t walk anybody while striking out nine in nine innings.

"I’m not worried about my command," Sanchez said. "I work to throw the pitch to my spot, and I’m doing that."

Ausmus said Davis, who took batting practice and ran the bases, was healthy.

Collins, who batted .240 with 29 doubles, 21 homers and 79 RBIs last year for Double-A Erie, will bat second behind Ian Kinsler and ahead of Miguel Cabrera.

"Hopefully, batting ahead of Miggy, he will get a few pitches to hit," Ausmus said. "He probably is one of those guys who can hit anywhere in the lineup because he has speed and power."

Collins, 23, made his major league debut Monday as a pinch-runner, scoring the winning run in the ninth inning on Alex Gonzalez’s single. Collins has good foot speed and can play all three outfield positions. However, he isn’t a speed merchant with 30 steals and six triples in three minor league seasons.

Ausmus said he told Collins he would be starting after Monday’s game, and joked that Collins probably didn’t get any sleep Tuesday night after an off day for the team.

"I’m sure Tyler will be excited," Ausmus said. "And the hardest part for a young player is getting to slow the game down."

Collins was asked for his reaction when seeing his named posted in the starting lineup for the first time in the majors.

"It’s just another game," Collins said with a smile. "I just have to treat it like it’s another game. But I got the nerves worked out pinch-running in the ninth inning. That was great being a part of that win. And now I will be more comfortable.

"My number was called, and I am ready."

When asked how he planned to use Collins, Ausmus said, "His role is to be determined."

Ausmus could platoon either left-handed-hitting Don Kelly or Collins with Davis in left field. However, Ausmus has said that he will give Davis a chance to prove he can play more against right-handed pitchers.

Collins is a hustler who can both pinch run and provide power off the bench. His versatility is one of the reasons he beat out Ezequiel Carrera, who takes away hits in the outfield, and Trevor Crowe, both of whom have big league experience.

Collins batted .241 in Grapefruit League games with an interesting trifecta by hitting three doubles, triples and homers in 54 at-bats for a hefty .574 slugging percentage. He knocked in eight runs.