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Gary Sanchez gets plenty of support and praise from Astros catcher Brian McCann

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and pitcher Luis Severino before Game

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and pitcher Luis Severino before Game 2 of the ALCS against the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Oct. 14, 2017. Credit: Getty Images / Elsa

HOUSTON — Gary Sanchez’s loud final two months of the 2016 season made Brian McCann expendable, and the Yankees traded the veteran catcher to the Astros in the offseason. But even after his playing time all but disappeared in the final six weeks last season, McCann was quick to praise the young catcher.

And McCann still acted like a teammate Saturday when he was asked before ALCS Game 2 about Sanchez’s defensive difficulties this season.

“The Yankees’ staff is not easy to catch,” McCann said. “Catching [Masahiro] Tanaka’s split when he throws it for strikes and then he buries one . . . so I had challenges as well catching him, and I think the bullpen’s really tough to catch. Coming in the league as a young guy, being able to swing the bat, I look at it the other way: I think he’s done an amazing job behind the plate. This isn’t easy, and putting on the gear every day, learning hitters’ tendencies, weaknesses, studying, it’s hard, and especially hard in New York. I think he’s done exceptionally well.”

Said Joe Girardi: “Mac knows. He was here. It’s not an easy staff to catch, and he’s played really well in the playoffs, Gary. He really has. You have a lot of guys that throw hard and have big breaking balls and bounce balls. It can be difficult.”

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