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Anibal to pick up intensity in second 'pen session

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DETROIT -- Anibal Sanchez showed off his right hand, where the ruptured blister on his right middle finger a week and a half ago created an ugly laceration and a stint on the disabled list.

"It looks normal," Sanchez said Wednesday with a smile.

Now comes the process of getting the right-hander's pitching back to normal. At this point, that timetable is still a little unclear.

Sanchez threw approximately 50 pitches Tuesday in what manager Brad Ausmus called a light bullpen session. He's scheduled to throw another session on Thursday, when he'll pick up the intensity a bit.

Where that takes Sanchez depends on how he feels. He's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Monday, the day after Robbie Ray makes his second start in Sanchez's rotation spot. The Tigers don't need a fifth starter again until May 20 at Cleveland, but Ausmus clearly has a spot in mind earlier for him.

"Because of where Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander line up, I don't think we have a ton of flexibility," Ausmus said.

Verlander and Scherzer currently line up back-to-back in the rotation, and they'll pitch Friday and Saturday against the Twins at Comerica Park. Ausmus is fine with that, but he wants to move the rotation so that Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly don't pitch back-to-back. He'll need Sanchez to start Tuesday in Baltimore if he wants to make that change the next turn through the rotation.

"We've looked at the off-day [May 15] to see what we can do," Ausmus said, "and right now there's not a whole lot we can do."

That means Sanchez might return to the rotation without a rehab start, something that shouldn't be a big deal for a pitcher missing just two weeks.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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