ANAHEIM, Calif. — It’s not quite see-ball-hit-ball-simple, but Gary Sanchez’s current offensive approach is close to it.
“Right now, I’m not thinking too hard at the plate,” he said through his translator. “Just going out there to put a good swing on the ball. Fortunately, good things are coming out of that.”
Good things? That’s understating it a bit.
Entering Saturday night’s game against the Angels — one in which Sanchez again started behind the plate for the Yankees and hit a home run to ignite a three-run first inning — the 23-year-old had recorded four straight multi-hit games, going 10-for-14 with three homers, three walks and five RBIs. That gave him an off-the-charts slash line of .714/.765/1.500.
In his previous eight games, Sanchez had a .516/.559/1.065 slash line with five homers, two doubles, three walks and eight RBIs.
In the 13 games since his promotion from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Sanchez had a .420/.463/.820 slash line with five homers, five doubles and 11 RBIs.
“His ceiling is immense,” one opposing team scout said.
The scout, noting some of the past issues Sanchez experienced during his climb in the minors — such as getting suspended twice for disciplinary reasons — said there are some lingering doubts that only time will answer.
“It remains to be seen if he can lock in enough to catch well 125 times a year,” the scout said. “But it’s a great move by [Joe] Girardi to hand him the reins . . . What catcher in the game has more pure talent for that position than this guy? The answer might be nobody.”
Sanchez said getting the chance to play on a daily basis has been a big help, something that doesn’t often happen with younger players.
“When I came up, my mentality was to work hard, keep working hard,” he said. “They have given me an opportunity to play every day, which I really enjoy. I’m getting results right now.”
Girardi said in the short time Sanchez has been up, the young catcher’s “patience” at the plate and his ability to adjust to pitchers has stood out.
“I don’t think you necessarily see a guy that’s in a hurry to get a hit,” he said before Saturday night’s game. “He’ll look at pitches, he’ll take a bad swing on a pitch and make an adjustment to it and understand what the guy has. These guys [young players] have to make adjustments. He’s pretty quick at making them. I just think he has an instinct that allows him to do that.”
Girardi also has been impressed with the ability Sanchez has shown to hit to all fields. For that reason, he said, he believes he could be a power hitter who also hits for average.
When Sanchez went 3-for-4 with a walk Friday night, he singled to right, doubled to left and doubled to right-center.
“I think guys that use the whole field and have power to all fields a lot of times are going to hit for average because they can take a ball down and away and go the other way and get a base hit,” Girardi said.
He used the Angels’ Albert Pujols to make his point. “He [took] a 2-0 slider the other way [through a hole at second],” Girardi said. “When you have those abilities, usually you hit for a good average.”
Sanchez and fellow rookies Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge are experiencing success in games that matter, too. Though the Yankees seemed to pull the plug on their season at the Aug.1 non-waiver trade deadline, they nonetheless have stayed on the periphery of the American League wild-card chase. They’re still a long shot, to be sure, but they’re still in it.
“I think it’s important that they’re playing in these types of games, for their development as much as anything,” Girardi said. “I think these are important games for them because we are fighting for something and it means more.”