Generally speaking, spring training stats aren’t the most accurate in terms of translation to the regular season. However, they do indicate flow and confidence leading up to Opening Day. For the New York Yankees, we’ve seen players like Estevan Florial and Aaron Judge dominate at the plate and in the field, but others have struggled to get going.
Starting catcher, Gary Sanchez, has once again looked porous at the plate. During Grapefruit League play, Sanchez is 2-for-13 with one RBI and five strikeouts. The injury narrative is getting old and it’s time for “El Gary” to show why he’s a capable starter at the MLB level.
First baseman Greg Bird has lifted his game in the midst of a position battle after suffering through foot injuries the last two years, why can’t Sanchez? The simple answer – timing.
The catcher has looked fantastic defensively, but his bat seems to be a little bit behind. Spring ball offers the valued experience and opportunity to adapt to real speed at the top level, and it looks as if the 26-year-old isn’t there yet in his program.
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone stated in regard to his hitting:
“His work behind the scenes has been strong. Now, it’s about getting regular at-bats. … He’s trying to find his timing offensively.”
Sanchez’s offense separated himself from the rest while he climbed the farm system ranks. His struggle seems to be more mental than physical. His confidence was clearly at an all-time low in 2018, earning a .186 ERA with 18 homers and 94 strikeouts.
Two groin problems forced the starting catcher out twice last year, which surely affected his efficiency at the plate and ability to run the bases.
Gary Sanchez is bound for improvement:
Last weekend, Sanchez looked comfortable at the plate, hitting a sacrifice fly to center in the first inning and a dart to center in the fourth that was impressively tracked down by Cedric Mullins.
“That was probably the best I’ve felt in the box so far,” Sanchez said of his spring.
There’s no question that the right-handed batter can’t return to form in the season ahead. He will need to focus in and regain his confidence at the plate in the next few weeks, as the regular season will present different challenges.