SEATTLE — Joe Girardi didn’t exactly knock Gary Sanchez over with praise.
And while not outright criticizing the 24-year-old catcher, and sprinkling in positive comments as well, Girardi made clear he feels there’s plenty of work to be done.
“I think he’s had a decent year,” Girardi said before Sunday’s 6-4 win over the Mariners when he was asked to evaluate his young catcher’s season to this point.
While saying Sanchez’s offensive numbers “are pretty good,” Girardi’s focus was more on defense.
“Still a work in progress,” the catcher-turned-manager said. “I think he can get better . . . Again, very seldom is a catcher in his first four months in the big leagues a finished product. It takes a lot of work.”
Girardi said “we’ve seen him improve blocking, something we’ve worked with him very hard,” but Sanchez was charged with his ninth passed ball Sunday, and has been behind the plate for 25 wild pitches.
While it’s true pitchers ultimately take the hit for wild pitches, the better catchers more often than not save those pitchers with their ability to block balls.
Girardi memorably pulled Sanchez aside in the dugout during a 12-3 victory over the White Sox June 28 to give him “tips” on blocking balls, a scene caught on camera.
“I think there’s some balls that have gotten by him that probably shouldn’t get by,” Girardi said. “That’s going to happen to every catcher, but maybe a few more [get by] than should. Those sort of things.”
Sanchez, though he missed nearly a month earlier in the season with a right biceps strain, still has 14 homers and 46 RBIs.
He went 0-for-5 Sunday, lowering his slash line to .265/.344/.470.
“I think adjusting to pitchers, the way they’re pitching him now, I think is something he could work on too,” Girardi said. “He doesn’t get a chance to throw a lot because teams don’t run on him a lot, but you have to stay sharp, and there’s way to stay sharp and we’re working on that with him too.”
The clubhouse was already closed when Girardi made his remarks, so Sanchez wasn’t available to comment.
The Frazier show
Clint Frazier’s two-run double gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead Sunday and made the rookie 16-for-48 — which includes five doubles, two triples and two homers — over his last 12 games. Before the game Girardi reiterated what he said Saturday: the 22-year-old, for the moment, will continue to play over Jacoby Ellsbury.
“There’ll be certain matchups I really like that I’m going to play [Ellsbury],” Girardi said. “But we’re in a time in the season that you’re going to go with the hot hand.”
The Yankees traded recently DFA’d INF/OF Rob Refsnyder to the Blue Jays for minor league first baseman Ryan McBroom on Sunday. Refsnyder, 26, a fifth-round pick of the Yankees in 2012, was never viewed by opposing team talent evaluators as the top prospect fans and media made him out to be. The 25-year-old McBroom, hitting .243 for Double-A New Hampshire, will be assigned to Double-A Trenton.