33° Good Afternoon
33° Good Afternoon

Yankees’ Joe Girardi on Gary Sanchez: ‘He’s here to play’

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez follows through

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez follows through on an RBI double against the Cleveland Indians during the second inning of an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Gary Sanchez started a second straight game behind the plate Saturday afternoon. Joe Girardi’s message: Get used to it.

“He’s here to play so he’s going to play,” he said before the game, one in which Sanchez went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and threw out a runner, his third in two games.

That doesn’t mean Sanchez, who was the DH in his first two games after Wednesday’s call-up from Triple-A before catching the last two, has supplanted Brian McCann as the starting catcher, or that backup Austin Romine now is a permanent part of the bench.

“The other guys are going to play as well,” Girardi said. “But he did a nice job [Friday] night.”

Sanchez has hit safely in each of his first four games since his promotion, going 5-for-15 with three doubles and three RBIs.

The 23-year-old’s bat has never been doubted. Nor has his arm, which again was on display Saturday in the Yankees’ 5-2 loss to the Indians. He threw out Brandon Guyer at second after blocking a ball in the dirt in the fifth inning.

The questions have been about his other work defensively, specifically receiving the ball and calling a game, areas in which there has been significant improvement.

“He was good behind the plate,” said CC Sabathia, Saturday’s starter. “He’s doing a great job.”

Through his translator, Sanchez said it’s something he’s made a priority.

“Definitely the hard work is paying off for me behind the plate,” he said. “That’s why I think I’m better today than I was a couple of years ago.”

Sanchez entered spring training as the favorite to win the backup catcher’s job but never made a run, with his poor showing coinciding with Romine’s standout performance.

Girardi said coming up and playing well should help put the rookie at ease.

“He’s been one of our prospects that has been highly touted,’’ he said, “and I think sometimes you can put a lot of pressure on yourself when you’re a young player because you want to prove that you belong and that you can play at this level, and sometimes you can put too much pressure on yourself, and I think he did that in spring training. I think he wanted it so bad, I think he put too much pressure on himself. For him to have success I think is important.”


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