It all happened so fast once Gary Sanchez made it to the Bronx last year: the homers, the starting role, a sudden superstardom that could have been at home in a sports movie montage. But that’s why things have to be the way they are now: No flash, no splash, a recovery inching along so cautiously, it might as well be on the Major Deegan on its way here.
And Sanchez is absolutely fine with it.
After going down with a strained biceps more than two weeks ago, Sanchez Wednesday played catch, throwing 60 feet, and took 25 dry swings. He experienced zero pain doing either, and it “felt normal,” he said in the Yankees dugout after. “As if I were playing every day, really.”
It may feel that way, but the Yankees are taking exactly zero chances with their presumable future, and, two days removed from an eight-game win streak, they have no reason to. That’s why, when Joe Girardi was asked about Sanchez’s plan, he highlighted that absolutely nothing has changed.
“Our plan was it was going to take four weeks,” he said. “You look at the last week, it would be playing games. We’re at day 11 here.”
Sanchez believes the plan is to build on what he’s doing now: eventually stretching his throws from 60 feet to 90, hitting off a tee instead of taking phantom hacks, and then going from there.
“You know, sometimes you feel so good, you just want to go full speed and full power right away, but what’s really important is the process here,” he said through an interpreter. “It’s really important to follow through. The trainers have a really good plan for me and it’s very important to give myself time and pace myself.”
The Yankees are keeping the rest of his body in baseball form, particularly his legs. He’s been catching off the pitch machine, Girardi said, “kind of simulated five or six inning, he’s been blocking . . . Everything is going well.”
If all goes according to plan, Sanchez could very well be playing major-league games by the first week of May, and then the next wave of speculation can begin. Mainly, whether he can really sustain the ridiculous production of his 2016, when he hit .299 in 53 games, with 20 home runs and 42 RBIs. He also did the seemingly impossible: Suddenly, “rebuilding” wasn’t a dirty word in the Bronx anymore.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Slow, remember?
“I’m super happy,” Sanchez said. “Super happy that I didn’t feel any pain or discomfort at all, that the work we’ve been doing, the rehab we’ve been doing with the trainers, it’s been enough. We’re taking it slow, little by little, but it feels really good to be able to catch and not feel anything . . . I do believe with the time that we’re taking and the process, that at the end of it, I’m going to feel better.”
With Erik Boland