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02/16/12 3:22 PM EST

Anibal focused on getting ready for season

Free agency looms for veteran right-hander after coming year

MIAMI -- Arbitration hearings have the reputation of being unpleasant for players.

Even if he wins, a player is typically subjected to hearing his team speak negatively about him in an effort to support its case.

Anibal Sanchez recently won his arbitration hearing against the Marlins and was awarded an $8 million salary for the 2012 season. Sanchez attended an arbitration hearing for the first time in his career, and he felt it was not as bad as he was led to believe.

"It wasn't bad," Sanchez said. "I think everybody thought they were going to say a lot of things that were bad about me. But I didn't think they said anything bad or that I didn't know. It's part of the business."

Sanchez will play the 2012 season under a one-year contract. It is his final season under team control before he is eligible for free agency.

The 27-year-old is coming off another solid season, in which he made 32 starts and threw 196 1/3 innings. Sanchez won just eight games in 2011, but his 3.67 ERA was the lowest among the team's starting pitchers. His 202 strikeouts also led the team last year.

Sanchez was even better in 2010, posting a 3.55 ERA while winning a career-high 13 games. It was also the first time in his career that he made all 32 of his starts. If Sanchez can match the success of the last two seasons in 2012, then he is expected to garner a lot of attention on the free-agent market.

Miami has not approached the Venezuela native about a contract extension, but Sanchez's only concern is preparing for the upcoming season.

"I don't know if the team is coming later with that or not," Sanchez said of a potential extension. "I'm not thinking about that right now. I am just happy to be healthy and that the new season is coming."

While questions swirl about his contract status, Sanchez is focusing on baseball, preparing to help the team return to the postseason for the first time since 2003.

"It's early, and with the season starting soon, I am just going to take it step by step. Right now, Spring Training is coming, so I need to work out to get ready for that and the season. So we'll see what happens."

Sanchez would be open to an extension if the Marlins approached him with an offer. But the talented right-hander has the potential to score a lucrative contract on the open market.

"Baseball is a business," Sanchez said. "One day you're here and another day you're on another team. I'm fine though. As long as I'm in the big leagues, I'm OK."

With his free agency still a full season away, Sanchez is not worried about what will happen with his contract situation. He also mentions that he and the Marlins are getting along great, even after their arbitration hearing.

"Everybody is fine right now," Sanchez said. "I'm happy and fine, not because I won, but because I'm healthy and I have another season ahead of me."

David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.