Brian Sanches knows there are reasons why he may not stand out as an option in the Nationals bullpen. Those reasons are found squarely in the numbers that he produced in short stints in the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies. In 30 games with the Phillies over the past two seasons, Sanches went 1-1, posting a 5.75 ERA, but he knows he's much better than that.
"I think for me, there was sort of a learning curve to pitch in the majors. When I first got there, I wanted to do too much too soon and I've sort of felt pressured to perform rather than just giving what I can to get hitters out," said Sanches of his time in Philadelphia. So, how would it be different this time? "I think I'm showing that I can pitch and the situation here [with the Nationals] is much different than in Philly. There, you were right in the thick of a pennant race and everything was so magnified, but here, there's more patience. Obviously, we want to win, but I think this organization is more tolerable of building than they were in Philly," explained Sanches.
The truth is, that pretty much all of last season was rough for Sanches. "I just never really got comfortable. The situation in Ottawa was rough, because everybody knew the team wasn't going to be there and there were hardly any fans in the park and it all just seemed bleak. I don't know if that's what it was or if there was something else, but I just never really got on track all season long," said Sanches. This season has been the complete opposite and Sanches believes that he made the right move in coming to the Nationals. The Phillies let Sanches go last September and he was able to latch on with the Nationals during the off-season. "At first, you think 'oh no, what's going to happen', but then you realize that there are other teams out there that are looking for help. I feel I was fortunate to be able to sign with the Nationals and it's been great," believes Sanches.
Sanches has bounced around a little after being drafted in the second round of the 1999 Draft by the Kansas City Royals. From there, it was on to the San Diego Padres organization via a trade and then, another deal that sent him from San Diego to the Phillies. For a guy who has never had overwhelming stuff, Sanches has progressed well and gets by on control and working to keep the ball down in the zone. "Occasionally I can blow a pitch by someone, but for the most part I just work to get hitters out anyway that I can. If it's by strikeout great, if not, then I'll just let my fielders do their job," said the 29 year old right-hander.
"I really believe that I'm more prepared to pitch at the Major League level now than I was before. I've been there before and the nervousness of it all should be gone, so I'm looking for good things," said Sanches of his future.
DC Baseball News talked to Brian Sanches shortly before the Nationals purchased his contract from Columbus on May 23rd. The interview was conducted while the Clippers were in Allentown, PA playing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.