New York Yankees: Gary Sanchez could be a completely different catcher in 2020

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez
Feb 12, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) works out as pitchers and catchers report for spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It is never too late for a player to develop new skills and become more efficient. New York Yankees’ catcher Gary Sanchez is attempting to do just that. By changing his technique behind the plate, he hopes to improve his defensive abilities.

“Definitely feel much better now comparing the time back when we started in spring training,” Sanchez said Wednesday. “It’s just, overall, you have more time practicing the new stance and working with the new stance.”

Yankees’ Sanchez has noticed positive benefits from his recent changes

“I definitely feel the improvement,” Sanchez said. “I want to say I have definitely gotten better, especially with pitches low in the zone. At the same time, we still have a lot of work to be done ahead of us. But that’s why we’re here, to keep (working).”

The Yankees have been helping Sanchez improve his pitch framing, which will hopefully benefit his pictures on the mound and increasing their strike rate. At times in the past, Gary was not able to elevate his glove fast enough or make pictures seem closer to the strike zone then they appeared.

However, this is the first real opportunity Sanchez has had regarding an improvement. This past spring, he struggled with minor injuries, which evidently hurt his progression.

“My back held me back a little bit (in the spring), which kind of prevented me from going at it the way I wanted to,” Sanchez said. “The last three months I went back to the DR and worked really hard on it, and all of that I think has helped me get to the point where I am today.”

Tanner Swanson, former catching coach for the Minnesota Twins, has been helping the Yankees’ catcher develop his new skills. While most of the work has been virtual, the past few weeks have been extremely beneficial for Sanchez.

“He would send me video and I’d provide feedback and occasionally we’d jump on a zoom call together and discuss certain variations of some of the positions and moves he was working through,” Swanson said Wednesday. “So I think overall the downtime was really positive because I think it allowed Gary specifically to kind of explore some of the positions and figure out how he could adapt them to his own style. We got to take advantage of some extra time and, ultimately, I think (it) will pay off.”

With a condensed 60-game campaign, the New York Yankees are hoping for any minuscule advantage to be exercised. Any minimal improvement can combine with others to result in a big one, which could be the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs. First, the Yankees have to win enough games to make the post-season, and any given hot or cold streak could curate problems or answers.

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