LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — After his interview to become Yankees manager, Aaron Boone talked about the importance of “relationships.”
He has discussed it repeatedly since being hired and has reached out to many of the players he’ll be managing in 2018.
This weekend Boone hopes to jump-start a positive relationship with one of his most important players, Gary Sanchez.
“He should be in New York this weekend,” Boone said Tuesday. “We’ve been texting back and forth, and my plan, my hope, is to get together with him very casually at some point this weekend. Again, I’ve talked to you guys a lot about relationships, and obviously, my relationship with Gary is something that I put a real high value on.”
Sanchez was terrific at the plate last season, slashing .278/.345/.531 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs, impressive numbers in that he played 122 games, missing nearly a month early in the year with a biceps injury. But Sanchez, an All-Star in 2017 who turned 25 Dec. 2, regressed from his rookie season behind the plate. Yankees pitchers ranked third in the AL in wild pitches, a statistic that often reflects poorly on the catcher, and Sanchez led the AL in passed balls with 16.
Former manager Joe Girardi, a standout defensive catcher, grew frustrated with Sanchez’s defense and publicly criticized the young catcher, even sitting him for a short time in early August.
“Look, catcher in major league baseball, it’s a demanding position,” Boone said. “It’s such an important position, and it’s a chance to impact like no other position on the field with things that don’t necessarily show up in the stat column. Obviously, he’s a tremendous talent. He’s already had massive success as a young player. So just building that relationship, gaining that trust, and letting him know that he’s going to be very well supported by me and our coaching staff. That relationship has already hopefully started.”
Mendoza comes aboard. Boone’s big-league coaching staff continues to take shape as the manager announced, as expected, that Carlos Mendoza has been added as the infield coach/quality control. Mendoza, in his previous capacity as the organization’s minor league infield coordinator, worked with top prospects such as Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.
“A rising star in our industry,” Boone said of Mendoza.
Monday Boone announced Josh Bard as his bench coach, Phil Nevin as the third-base coach and Reggie Willits as the first- base coach. There are indications that Mike Harkey will return as the bullpen coach and Marcus Thames, the assistant hitting coach to Alan Cockrell last season, seems in line to take over the top spot this season.