DETROIT -- The hope of a quick return for Anibal Sanchez seems to be done after the Tigers right-hander suffered a setback in his latest throwing session Monday. For now, there's no timetable for when Sanchez will be able to return in the midst of the Tigers' playoff chase.
"Especially with the situation we are [in] right now, of course I'm concerned. It depends on how fast I heal," Sanchez said when asked about pitching again this season. "It's nothing like they're going to say, 'OK, you're going to wait for two weeks, or one week.' It's how fast my body can heal up."
The Tigers, understandably, are hoping he can heal quickly enough to get back in September.
"By no means has he been written off," manager Brad Ausmus said. "This is not something that, at this point, we've considered the end of Anibal Sanchez's season. We still think there's a shot he can come back."
Sanchez felt fine playing catch and throwing long toss Monday at Comerica Park, throwing as far as 150 feet, according to Ausmus. Once he tried to pick up the intensity on his throws, he felt pain around his strained right pectoral muscle.
"It wasn't until he threw a changeup that he felt it," Ausmus said.
Said Sanchez: "I threw just one pitch. … As soon as I felt it, I knew I had to stop, because I couldn't even move my arm.
"It's really hard to explain that kind of pain. It's something like when you got a needle inside you, and you try to move it. That's the pain, like that. It really hurt. It's nothing like what I felt when I had my shoulder or elbow issue before."
Sanchez said he was told that the pain was scar tissue breaking off from the original strain, which he suffered 2 1/2 weeks ago. He underwent an ultrasound exam to try to make sure.
"The ultrasound says I've got full motion, and I feel really good on that," Sanchez said. "Right now, I'm just like back at the first day [of the injury], heating and cooling the area."
If this is indeed like the first day of the injury, and Sanchez needs 2 1/2 weeks to get back to this point, that would put any potential return around mid-September.
"Right now, just wait until I've got a full range of motion, and pain free, nothing bothering me," Sanchez said." When this happens, I start to throw again."
The Tigers were originally holding out hope, slim as it was, that Sanchez could return for Saturday's doubleheader against the White Sox in Chicago. That's why Sanchez threw on Monday, an off-day for the Tigers. Had he gotten through that session OK, he would've thrown off the bullpen mound Wednesday.
With Sanchez ruled out for Saturday, the Tigers now are likely to keep Kyle Lobstein in their rotation going forward, and will need a spot starter for Saturday. Lobstein, who pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief Saturday at Minnesota, will start Thursday against the Yankees at Comerica Park.
Ausmus said they'll call up somebody from the Minors for a spot start Saturday, but they haven't determined who will fill the role.