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Yankees' Gary Sanchez takes a step backward . . . many steps, in fact

Yankees' catcher Gary Sanchez waiting for batting practice

Yankees' catcher Gary Sanchez waiting for batting practice during spring training in Tampa, FL on Feb. 13, 2020. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. — This was a decided step back for Gary Sanchez and the reconfigured stance he’s been working on with new catching coordinator Tanner Swanson.

In addition to being charged with one passed ball, Sanchez allowed three pitches to get past him that probably should have been caught or blocked — though they were officially scored as wild pitches — in the Yankees'  5-1 loss to the Orioles Friday night at Steinbrenner Field.

Sanchez heard some boos after two of David Hale's pitches went to the backstop in the top of the fourth inning, then heard much louder boos — a rarity in spring training games — after striking out on three pitches to lead off the bottom of the fourth.

“Got a little out of rhythm there,” Aaron Boone said. “It doesn’t take away a lot of the good things we’re seeing [thus far].” 

Swanson was hired away from the Twins during the offseason, brought in specifically to teach the one-knee-down stance to Sanchez and the other catchers in camp. The stance has been shown, in some instances, to help catchers with their pitch-framing, allowing them to steal more strikes in the lower part of the strike zone.  

Oops Part II

Gleyber Torres’ transition back to his natural position, shortstop, has not gone smoothly. He  made a wild throw on a routine grounder hit by Renato Nunez in the fourth inning Friday night, giving him a team-high four errors in eight Grapefruit League games.

Chappy on the mound

Closer Aroldis Chapman made his exhibition debut and pitched a scoreless third inning. Chapman struck out Andrew Velazquez with a 97-mph fastball.  Austin Hays then roped a double to left on a 96-mph fastball, but Chapman retired the next two batters to end a 10-pitch inning in which he threw seven strikes.

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