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Gary Sanchez back in the swing in first game back

Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees

Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees flies out in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 1, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Gary Sanchez’s long-awaited return to the lineup Saturday gave the Yankees reason to be encouraged.

Sanchez, who had been on the disabled list since July 23 after aggravating a groin strain, went 0-for-4 in a 2-1 win over Detroit at Yankee Stadium. However, he just missed hitting a statement-making home run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Sanchez’s loud out to the warning track in left-centerfield, moments before Gleyber Torres lined a difference-making two-run homer to left, was a moment that certainly caught everyone’s attention.

“I felt good today,” said Sanchez, who has endured a trying season and is hitting .185 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 67 games. “I felt good hitting. I hit a couple of balls very well, hit them hard, but they ended up being caught. And that’s the game. That’s how baseball is sometimes. But you keep grinding, keep your head up and you keep fighting.”

Though Sanchez finished the night hitless, manager Aaron Boone was encouraged by Sanchez’s swings and timing at the plate.

“I thought he had good at-bats,” Boone said. “He hit a ball to the fence, smoked a ball to third. I thought he looked pretty much on time at the plate. So I thought it was a really good first day for him even though he didn’t get any results at the plate.”

Sanchez also worked a quality game behind the plate in support of Masahiro Tanaka. He allowed one run, seven hits and a walk in seven innings.

“I definitely felt good,” Sanchez said. “I’ve had the opportunity to catch Masahiro many times now so I have that experience so I feel very comfortable catching him. He was executing pitches; he was locating pitches. The fastball down and away was the key today and he was excellent.”

Boone also was a fan of what he saw in Sanchez’s movements defensively after missing more than a month of action.

“I thought he looked really good,” Boone said. “I thought he caught great today. I thought, just from the side, his pitch framing, some big blocks in the dirt there late in the eighth inning with the tying run on third.”

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