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Slumping Gary Sanchez back in lineup after 2 games off

Boone says he’s not worried that hitting problems will last all season.

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez talks with starting pitcher

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez talks with starting pitcher Domingo German prior to the start of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

At some nonspecific point, a bad start to a season becomes a bad season. Aaron Boone said he doesn’t even consider that to be a possibility for Gary Sanchez.

“I think what I see is what everyone sees and knows about Gary Sanchez, and it’s this guy can really hit,” Boone said before Thursday night’s game against the Rays, in which Sanchez returned to the lineup after two games off.

“He’s 25 years old, or whatever he is, he’s always hit. That’s not going to go, in my opinion, into a season-long kind of situation. He’s too good, he’s too talented. The integrity of the season will play itself out and he’ll get it rolling.”

With Monday being an off day, Boone rested Sanchez Tuesday and Wednesday. He did it to give the slumping catcher a “physical” break more than anything, with Boone citing the wear and tear of the position.

It was not because Sanchez, considered by many inside and outside of the Yankees to be their most complete hitter, hasn’t gotten it going this season. Although he has a more than acceptable 12 homers and 35 RBIs, some of the other numbers aren’t what he, or the Yankees, are used to seeing or expect, such as a .188 average and a .291 on-base percentage. Sanchez went 0-for-2, walked twice and scored a run in the Yankees’ 4-3 win.

“Just a little refresher physically,” Boone said when asked what he hoped the break would do for Sanchez. “I think I’ll probably from time to time, if a guy’s struggling, pick a day here or there, or pick a couple of days, just to almost as much as anything give them a mental break. I didn’t really feel that way, honestly, this time with Sanchy. It was more about, physically I thought he could use it.”

Sanchez hit .278 and slugged .531 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs last season, his first full year in the majors. He did not request to have the time off and even tried to talk Boone into keeping him in the lineup. Although he acknowledged the hiatus could only help his body — he’s been dealing with a right calf issue since April — he didn’t use any physical ailments as excuses.

“The reason why I’m not hitting is because I’m missing pitches that I normally hit, that’s the main reason,” Sanchez said this week. “There have been pitches that I don’t miss, and unfortunately I’ve been missing those.”

That has been a recurring theme with Boone, too.

“I feel like he’s just missing pitches he normally would do damage with, whether it be a pop-up in the infield or fouling a pitch off,” Boone said. “But there’s nothing that I see that suggests that he’s not going to turn it around.”

Which the manager again said he’s sure will happen.

“I think he’s a little bit frustrated and upset he’s not dominating, which is to be expected,” Boone said. “I feel like there’s been times where he’s pressed a little bit where he’s chasing the result, chasing the hits, which I think is normal when a hitter struggles a little bit. Trust me. You start chasing having a good at-bat and the results will follow, especially for a guy that talented. I think he’s a little frustrated that he’s not doing as well as he can, but I don’t think there’s any confidence issue.”

There certainly doesn’t seem to be.

“I feel good,” Sanchez said. “I know if I stay healthy, where I should be. I have full confidence in me. I should be fine.”

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