Yankees’ Gary Sanchez has three strikeouts on winter debut

Sep 2, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) hits an RBI single during the first inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees allowed catcher Gary Sanchez to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. They want him to try to regain the offensive rhythm that made him perhaps the most feared catcher in baseball from 2016 to 2019, keeping in mind that the 2020 season with the Bombers was a struggle from start to end.

Sanchez made his long-awaited debut in the LIDOM with Toros del Este, a team that didn’t have the privilege of writing Sanchez’s name in the lineup since the 2013 winter season. The Yankees’ backstop didn’t have a particularly good showing on Friday night, but he is just getting started, after all.

In five trips to the plate, the New York Yankees’ slugger went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts and a bloop single, which he got in his second at-bat of the evening. He worked a deep count and then ripped a soft liner to right field to plate a run.

A duel of Yankees players

Sanchez squared off against Yankees’ teammate Albert Abreu, who gave the catcher fits with his slider low and away.
The Yankees opted to tender the arbitration-eligible Sanchez a contract ahead of the 2021 season, despite having a career-low .147 batting average, a 36% strikeout rate, and a 69 wRC+. He did hit 10 home runs, but the Bombers know he is capable of much more and are opting to try and fix what is ailing his swing/approach.

Toros ended up winning 2-1 against Tigres del Licey, in part thanks to Sanchez’s single that put his team on the board. In the rest of the championship, though, he will be looking to gain consistency at the plate and make loud and frequent contact.

For what is worth, Toros is delighted to have him playing, as they should. “It is a luxury for the Toros and the league to have Gary back,” general manager Raymond Abreu told Dominican media outlet precision.com.do. “We are sure that his impact will be enormous both on and off the field.”