Yankees: Hitting coach Marcus Thames explains Gary Sanchez’s struggles and is convinced he will rebound

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees‘ hitting coach Marcus Thames discussed Gary Sanchez’s struggles in the shortened 2020 season. The All-Star catcher produced a meager 69 wRC+ and struck out in 36 percent of his at-bats. Although he hit 10 home runs, his offensive performance was bad to the point he was benched in the playoffs.

“He felt like 2020 was a disaster for him,’’ New York Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames said to the New York Post this week. “He knows it.’’ After the season ended, the backstop called Thames and decided to start hitting in the team complex in Tampa. His desire to get better is such that he is currently playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic.

“The fact he’s playing there says a lot,’’ Thames said. “Not a lot of guys with his credentials play down there. It shows you how much he wants to get better and get back to where he was.”

The Yankees’ hitting coach believes he spotted what ailed Sanchez

The road to making improvements started with Thames and assistant hitting coach PJ Pilittere. They looked at video, together with Sanchez, to try to determine what went wrong.

“We watched a lot of video and he wasn’t slowing the game down with his lower half,’’ Thames said. “He wasn’t staying behind the ball and he wasn’t recognizing pitches, so he was swinging at a lot of bad pitches, and swinging and missing. He normally doesn’t do that. We detected some things and I think he’s back.”

The Yankees’ slugger is doing good in winter ball with Toros del Este, six extra-base hits in 48 at-bats.

“It still feels new to him, but he’s making good moves to the baseball and looking like the Gary I’ve seen and we’ve been used to seeing,’’ Thames said.

“I never lost confidence in him,’’ Thames said. “I’d tell him, ‘You’re a pretty good player. You’ll figure it out.’ We only had 60 games last year, so it’s a little hard to evaluate. Those were the cards we were dealt and now he has to put it behind him.’’