Sounds like Gary Sanchez has a pretty clear New Year’s resolution, one to which many of us can relate: Prove that 2020 was just a bad dream.
The Yankees’ beleaguered catcher led off his 2021 Instagram feed Saturday with a photo of himself in the pinstripes at Yankee Stadium — chest protector on, catcher’s helmet in his right hand and catcher’s glove on his left — with this message: “Happy New Year, everyone. Thank you to all that supported me. I will prove you right. #iamstillgary”
Among those who supported Sanchez, at least in one sense, are the Yankees, who tendered the 28-year-old a contract last month. That appeared far from a certainty after Sanchez’s performance cratered during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, as he slashed .147/.253/.365 in 49 games while struggling defensively as well. The Yankees started Sanchez in only two of their seven postseason games, opting for Kyle Higashioka in the other five.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Sanchez expressed frustration that the Yankees didn’t tell him why he was benched in October, although he added that he later straightened out the matter with manager Aaron Boone.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said he expects Sanchez to start the bulk of the club’s games behind the plate next season.
Sanchez spent time this offseason in Tampa, working with Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames and his assistant PJ Pilittere, before going to his native Dominican Republic to get some at-bats in winter ball.
Sanchez finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2016, upon an explosive, two-month freshman campaign. He enjoyed a strong 2017 offensively while struggling defensively, dipped offensively while improving defensively in 2018 and got better at both in 2019 before his 2020 dive off a cliff. Who Sanchez still is at this juncture remains in question. With his words Saturday, Sanchez vowed that he’ll make the answer a good one.
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