Joe Girardi made it clear: Despite Gary Sanchez’s erratic defense behind the plate, he will catch Luis Severino in Tuesday night’s projected wild-card game with the Twins.
“This is my catcher,’’ the Yankees manager said Friday.
Sanchez was not in the starting lineup against the Blue Jays after an adventurous Thursday behind the plate when he was charged with a passed ball and had a throwing error in a 9-6 loss to the Rays. He has 16 passed balls, to lead the majors, and 13 errors in 121 games.
“It definitely feels nice,’’ Sanchez said of Girardi’s decision. “I’ve caught Severino many times through the season . . . Defensively, the year hasn’t gone the way that I wanted to, but I also feel that I’ve improved in the past couple of months.’’
Added Girardi: “Catchers are going to have bad days. Everyone wants to focus on the two balls that maybe got by him. But what about the 12 or 14 that he did block?’’
Sanchez also took a pitched ball to his throat Thursday.
“I said you have C [catcher] marks on there and, you know, you might have to explain it when you go, that big red mark,’’ Girardi said. “You kind of joke about it but I mean it’s scary when you get hit in the throat.’’
Girardi’s endorsement was a complete departure from the annoyance he displayed Aug. 4 when Sanchez had a passed ball in a loss to the Indians. “He needs to improve, bottom line,’’ Girardi told reporters after that game.
“I was just being honest, letting him know that he needs to improve,’’ Girardi said Friday. “And he took it upon himself and has worked very hard to improve. Again, we don’t necessarily have the easiest guys to catch in the world. You got guys throwing 100 and if they miss their spot, it’s not always easy. Or you get breaking balls that are extremely sharp.
“I’ve been asked the question, do you catch [Austin] Romine with Severino on Tuesday. Some would take a look at the ERA by catcher and what this kid has done with Severino.’’
Severino’s ERA is 2.86 in 22 games caught by Sanchez, 3.29 with Romine. In the arcane statistic known as CERA — catcher’s ERA, defined as the team ERA with that catcher behind the plate — Sanchez ranks fourth in the majors at 3.46. Sanchez’s strong suit is throwing out baserunners, 38 percent this year and 41 percent in 2016.
“He’s young,” Girardi said. “But this kid has really made a lot of progress and you’re going to have a bad day every once in awhile as a catcher. The importance of him back there — I’ve talked to him about how important he is to our club — I know he’s got a great bat, but his defense is really important, too.’’
Sanchez said he is not dwelling on past mistakes.
“Stuff like that, you have to put it aside and you can’t let that bother you, because the number one thing here is to win ballgames,’’ he said. “So you have to move away from all that negative stuff. It’s just a matter of concentrating, doing your job and improving.’’