The Yankees' Gary Sanchez grounds out during the ninth inning...

The Yankees' Gary Sanchez grounds out during the ninth inning against the Rays on Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla. Credit: AP / Mike Carlson

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There was a reason for Gary Sanchez’s lack of hustle Monday night after all. But Sanchez, who was placed back on the disabled list Tuesday with a right groin strain, said that wasn’t an alibi.

“An injury is never an excuse,” the Yankees catcher said through his translator. “If I’m on the field, I’m good to play. My answer is the same as yesterday. I could have done a better job.”

In Monday’s 7-6 loss to the Rays, Sanchez reaggravated the strain that had him on the DL from June 25-July 19. He said he felt “tightness” in “the same location” in the first inning, when he was slow in pursuing a passed ball that allowed a runner to score from second base.

He did not say anything to manager Aaron Boone or the training staff.

“Sometimes you feel aches and you just keep playing and it goes away,” Sanchez said. “Same thing last night. I thought I’d get through it without a problem. Didn’t think it would be a big deal at all. That’s why I didn’t say anything.”

Then came the ninth inning.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Sanchez hit a grounder to overshifted second baseman Daniel Robertson on the shortstop side of second. Robertson tossed the ball to shortstop Willy Adames on the move, but Adames was too late to get a forceout at second as Aaron Hicks beat him to the bag. But Adames then threw to first and easily got Sanchez, who jogged most of the way before picking up the pace, but far too late to make a difference.

After the game, Boone said he wanted to review the video before making a judgment on Sanchez’s hustle. After seeing it, and before talking to Sanchez, Boone wasn’t pleased.

“At that point in the game, you’ve got to make sure you get out of the box and get after it, because that’s a game-on-the-line situation,” Boone. “So my first reaction to that was that needed to be better.”

Boone said he was prepared to “handle it between he and I,” though he didn’t specify what that meant. But Boone said that soon afterward Sanchez popped into his office.

“He came in on his own, which I thought was encouraging, and we had a long talk about it,” Boone said. “Which was mostly about him being accountable for some effort things that he certainly could have been better with. At the end of that he kind of left a little crumb, that [he felt] a little tightness. But I don’t think he thought it was that big of a deal, nor did I at the time.”

Boone said he didn’t think the injury necessarily erased not giving more of an effort.

“I think he was out there where he felt like he could have given more and should have given more,” Boone said. “There’s no doubt the injury cuts into that a little bit, but he felt like he was sound enough to be giving, in a couple of those situations, a stronger effort.”

Sanchez, who said this injury doesn’t feel as serious as the previous one, is expected to be down at least a couple of weeks. The catcher, who is hitting .188 and slugging .416 with 14 homers and 42 RBIs, said he didn’t feel any problem with the groin when he came off the DL and didn’t feel as if he returned too soon. Nonetheless, he felt a sense of guilt about Monday.

“You have the game on the line and you basically end up losing the game because it’s your fault, you feel really bad about that,” Sanchez said. “You feel bad for your teammates, you feel bad for the fans because you want to give them the maximum effort. You have a responsibility as a player, and when you don’t give them the best you can, of course you’re going to feel you let them down.”

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