Gary Sanchez proved he had the sandwich-making skills to pay the bills Monday afternoon, but it looks as if he’s going to stick with this “baseball phenom” thing a little longer.
“I don’t feel any pressure at all,” the Yankees catcher said through an interpreter after making an appearance at Bullpen Deli Twin Bagel, an eatery around the corner from Yankee Stadium (he helped prepare two sandwiches — turkey and ham). “I’ve got to keep doing the same thing I’ve been doing — play baseball, and it’s what I know [how] to do. Hopefully, with my teammates, we can put together a good team.”
The season had barely ended before speculation began about how Sanchez could possibly replicate his monster rookie campaign. Despite playing in only 53 games, he finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting to Tigers righthander Michael Fulmer after hitting 20 home runs and driving in 42 runs. He had a .657 slugging percentage to go with his .299 batting average.
But sophomore slumps are a well-known truism in baseball, and it’s entirely likely that Sanchez won’t be immune in one way or another. On Monday at the Yankees’ “Winter Warm-Up” event, however, he reiterated that he isn’t overly concerned.
“During the baseball season, there’s highs and lows,” he said. “You’ve got to go through all that. As a baseball player, that’s something you understand and you’ve got to keep your head high and hopefully you can be consistent.”
Sanchez said he’s stuck to his offseason routine and that his focus right now is to remain healthy and come to spring training ready to go. Last year, he didn’t even earn a spot on the team; now he’s their presumed No. 3 hitter.
“I don’t feel any pressure being the guy on the field and off the field,” he said. “On the field, you’re trying to win games. That’s the focus . . . I’m working very hard right now and like I said before, I’m trying to stay healthy. What kind of results I’m going to have in the upcoming season? I don’t know. We’ve got to wait and see.”