In a city that’s had its share of big-time catchers, Yankees fans have good reason to feel excited about the one behind the plate right now.
Although it’s been only two weeks, Gary Sanchez is hitting .340 with four home runs and 10 RBIs through 39 at-bats over 12 games after Tuesday’s two-homer outburst in a 12-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s hit safely in nine games.
“I think he’s really good at recognizing what pitchers are trying to do to him and making adjustments,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He understands their repertoire and he sees pitches and he gives you tough at-bats.”
Sanchez isn’t looking big picture right now. The 23-year old from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is just excited for his opportunity. And he’s certainly making the most of it.
“I feel very comfortable right now,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I’m getting good results and I’m looking to improve every day.”
Sanchez said he’s spending extra time working with coaches and watching video. He’s not just relying on pure talent. He even legged out an infield single Tuesday, finishing 3-for-4.
Although Girardi didn’t want to commit to it before the game, Sanchez has begun to take over more of the catching role with Brian McCann often serving as designated hitter.
“Not necessarily,” Girardi said pregame about the idea that McCann has become the backup catcher. “Right now, it appears that way, and I can’t tell you that that’s going to change . . . We like what [Sanchez] has done. Brian’s going to catch, Romine’s still going to catch, but we’re giving a lot of reps to Gary. As long as he’s handling it, I’ll continue to do that and then Brian will DH more.”
If Sanchez keeps hitting like he has, Girardi will certainly want his bat in the lineup any way possible. Girardi said Sanchez has improved behind the plate, but Sanchez understands catchers share the blame when opponents have big offensive innings. Toronto scored all 12 of its runs Tuesday over two innings.
“When the other team has a breakout and tonight two good innings when they put up a lot of runs, that’s part of baseball,” Sanchez said. “They are a professional team over there, too.”
Sanchez hit .282 with 10 home runs in 70 minor-league games this season. Girardi acknowledged Sanchez is likely more fresh than McCann, which could contribute to more starts behind the plate to close the season.