LAKELAND, Fla. — Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has said he draws equal satisfaction from hitting home runs and throwing out would-be base-stealers.
He experienced both Saturday afternoon — in the same inning, no less — in the Yankees’ 11-1 win over the Tigers.
After Aaron Hicks led off the top of the third with a walk against the Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez, Gary Sanchez fell behind 0-and-1. The righthander threw a fastball, and Gary Sanchez — hitting in the two-hole, something Joe Girardi didn’t rule out as a possibility during the regular season — was on the 90-mph delivery, hitting a towering home run to left to make it 2-0.
Tigers speedster Anthony Gose led off the bottom of the inning against Dellin Betances with a drag-bunt single, then took off for second. He got a good jump, but as many runners already have discovered, that doesn’t matter when Sanchez is behind the plate. From his knees, he threw a seed to second baseman Starlin Castro, who tagged out Gose as he slid in.
“That’s impressive,” Betances said. “I was just in awe.”
Girardi, a former catcher, had a special appreciation of the throw. “It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’m not sure I can think of anyone else that makes that throw. The arm strength is incredible, the quickness is incredible.”
Through his translator, Sanchez said the speed of the runner is irrelevant to him.
“You can’t really think about if the guy is a fast runner or if the guy is a slow runner because you need to make a good throw and execute the throw,” he said. “If you start thinking, ‘Oh, the guy’s a slow runner,’ I might overthrow. So you can’t think like that. You want to have the same mentality every time.”
Sanchez has no problem with hitting second, which Girardi said he might consider doing in the regular season.
“I feel fine wherever they put me,” said Sanchez, who is 5-for-15 with two homers and a double. “Wherever the manager wants to have me in the lineup, I’m fine with. You feel good to be in the lineup. Wherever that is, I’m happy.”
Girardi said “I’m going to look at doing a lot of different things” when it comes to his regular-season lineup, which includes splitting up Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top. Sanchez hitting second is one of those things he’s looking at.
“In the first inning, I’d probably prefer to have two guys in front of my best hitter, but then you start going through the other three times in the lineup and you get a few more at-bats during the course of the season, so I can see both ways,” Girardi said. “I wouldn’t make too much of it [Sanchez hitting second] right now, but I’m going to look at everything.”