Gary Sanchez arrived in the Bronx Wednesday. He is one of the young players whom managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has mentioned as being critical to the Yankees’ future.
And Joe Girardi said Sanchez, in the lineup as the designated hitter Wednesday night, isn’t likely to be the last of those players called up before rosters expand Sept. 1.
“I think that’s a possibility, definitely, yes,” Girardi said of more coming soon.
Besides Sanchez, those likely to benefit in the next month from the organization’s decision to infuse the big-league roster with young players are outfielder Aaron Judge, rated among the club’s top prospects, and Tyler Austin, an outfielder who has excelled since being switched to first base earlier in the season.
Girardi, however, said while the priority over the season’s two months is to get the raw talent experience, it doesn’t equate to surrender.
“Part of that is we believe these guys can help us,” he said. “We believe that Gary Sanchez can help us . . . we’re still trying to win and we figure these guys are going to give us an opportunity.”
Sanchez, a top prospect in the organization since signing for $3 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, will be getting an extended look for the first time.
What Girardi called a “nicked up” left thumb will keep him from catching Sanchez for a few days. Sanchez went 1-for-4 Wednesday — he collected his first big-league hit with a seventh-inning single.
“He’s going to catch and DH some and we’re going to try and get him some experience in a lot of different ways,” Girardi said. “It’s our job in this situation to try and get him comfortable and try to get him at-bats different ways so he does get comfortable . . . so we see his true talent come out.”
The Yankees thought that might happen in the spring when Sanchez, 23, was given a chance to win the backup catcher’s job. But Sanchez never got going — Girardi theorized he pressed — losing the competition handily to Austin Romine.
“It’s not that I put a lot of pressure on myself, it’s that I couldn’t get the results that I wanted,” Sanchez said, through his translator, before Wednesday’s game. “I just kept working hard. Now I’m here.”
Sanchez produced a .282/.339/.468 slash line, with 10 homers and 50 RBIs, in 71 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before his call-up Wednesday.
Hitting has never been much of a question with the catcher — nor has his cannon of an arm — but his ability to receive has been. Opposing team scouts say that aspect of Sanchez’s game, while still needing work, has come a long way.
“It’s something I’m really proud of and believe is very important,” Sanchez said of being recognized as a good defensive catcher.
The Yankees, to borrow an oft-used phrase of GM Brian Cashman’s, are “dreaming big” on Sanchez, who shares those expectations.
“I want to be one of the best out there in the game, that’s what I’m hoping for,” he said. “I’ve worked very hard to get here. Being here makes me feel happy but at the same time humble.”