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Yankees manager Aaron Boone comes to embattled catcher Gary Sanchez's defense

New York Yankees' Gary Sanchez misses a pop

New York Yankees' Gary Sanchez misses a pop fly by Cleveland Indians' Oscar Mercado in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) Credit: AP/John Minchillo

Despite some very well-publicized costly defensive gaffes, Aaron Boone still has a strong measure of confidence in Gary Sanchez. He started him again Monday night as the Yankees embarked on a pivotal final 12 games with a postseason berth hanging in the balance.

"I get frustrated a little bit even for him, that he has a couple plays that I think [the media] and most everyone who’s covered us on a daily basis have seen a guy that’s caught really well for us this year and has made really important and, I think, substantial defensive strides," Boone said of his embattled catcher. "And I think, because Gary is the lightning rod that he seems to be at times, a play or two really torpedoes some of that or changes some of the narrative, and that’s not necessarily fair."

Sanchez’s most recent mistake came Saturday, when he dropped a foul pop-up early in an inning in which Cleveland scored seven runs. Afterward, Boone said the Yankees' catching situation is "day-to-day," leading to speculation that Kyle Higashioka would start taking over some of Sanchez's duties.

Apparently, though, day-to-day means just that, and Sanchez hit his 22nd homer in the second inning Monday night to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead over the Rangers.

"These final two weeks, everything is up for grabs as far as I’m going to run out there what I think gives us the best chance to win,'' Boone said, "and I think in Higgy and Gary’s case, I think they both bring a lot of value and we’re going to need both of them to play big roles for us down the stretch."

There’s no doubt that it’s been an absolutely terrible week and a half for Sanchez, starting with a non-tag he put on Jonathan Villar on Sept. 10 that allowed the Mets to tie the score. He struggled while catching Clay Holmes in the ninth inning Thursday, leading to two possibly stoppable wild pitches that allowed the Orioles to tie the score in a game Baltimore went on to win. And then there was the Cleveland game.

None of this bodes well for Sanchez, who’s coming up on an arbitration year and very well could be cut loose if the Yankees think he’s too much of an expensive liability. Sanchez came into Monday with a .210/.313/.431 slash line in 106 games.

Boone said all the noise hasn’t dimmed Sanchez’s confidence.

"Gary does a good job of not letting all the noise creep in and he does move on within a game, within a day-to-day very well," he said. "I think it’s important to acknowledge the strides that he’s made in every facet on the defensive side while also acknowledging a couple of big mistakes this week . . . I do feel like he has the maturity and the makeup to be able to handle it and move on from it."

Injury updates

Domingo German (shoulder) could be activated as soon as Tuesday, Boone said . . . Jameson Taillon (ankle) could throw a rehab game Wednesday. He threw a light side session Monday and was scheduled for fielding practice to help test his mobility.

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