This is not something new with Gary Sanchez. His lack of hustle dates back to his days in Double-A ball for the New York Yankees. Patience is a virtue with young players, but it seems only a daring intervention by the team can save this young man’s career…
The Yankees announcement that Gary Sanchez will miss “at least a month” of the 2018 season reveals a truth about where the team stands with their young catcher. With his lack of hustle and ten passed balls now commonplace in his play on the field, the Yankees appear to be finding a place in purgatory for Sanchez. Exiled to the Yankees training facility in Tampa, Gary Sanchez is at a crossroad in his major league career, and his return to the Yankee’s lineup is anything but imminent.
The New York Mets have Yoenis Cespedes, and the Yankees have Gary Sanchez. Each has all-star baseball abilities, and each has been nothing more than a total pain in the butt for their respective team. Unlike Cespedes, who is seemingly beyond repair and leaves the Mets with no choice but to dole out millions of dollars to a player who never plays, Sanchez is in the infancy of his career with the Yankees.
The team has choices they can exercise with Gary Sanchez. Albeit, none of the choices are easy, and the consequences of anything the Yankees do with Sanchez will be far-reaching, if only because he occupies a vital position on the field as their catcher.
For now, the Yankees seem to be sending a coded message to Sanchez. Grow up, Gary. You do not have a place reserved for you on this team. We are the New York Yankees, and your act is wearing very thin on our patience with you. Henceforth, the ball is in your court, and your next at-bat will come not only when you are deemed healthy enough to play, but when you convince us your head is as healthy as your body.
Aaron Boone, who should be given four stars for his comments following last Saturday’s catastrophic exhibition by Gary Sanchez on two plays which, arguably, might have cost the Yankees a game in the win column, was careful not to link Sanchez’s groin injury to the lack of hustle shown by his player. Boone’s message was terse and right on target. When you are on the field, you go all out all the time. No excuses.
Later, Sanchez was all kinds of apologetic in admitting to his sins. But nothing can negate the damage done on the field, and his hollow words remind of the boy in the principal’s office whining for another chance at redemption. But in this case, the Yankees remained firm, “suspending” Gary Sanchez (for all practical purposes) for at least a month and possibly more.
Groin injuries vary from player to player. Time lost on the field is flexible, and “tweaks” following a return to play too soon often extend a player’s time on the DL. In theory, the Yankees could, if they wanted to, renew Sanchez’s stint on the DL without objection from the suits at MLB for the remainder of the season.
The presence of Austin Romine makes this decision much easier for the team. The staff loves pitching to him, and his bat has come alive with a series of timely hits and good at-bats. Kyle Higashioka is not the long-term answer as a backup catcher though, and for that reason, Brian Cashman is actively scouring the remains of what’s left via the trade market to fill that void.
I’m always hesitant when it comes to getting inside the head of a player. But when a player walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it’s reasonable to assume he is a duck. And that’s the case with Gary Sanchez.
There’s something misfiring in his head causing a disconnect between “I want to be the best” and the ensuing effort required to become the best. For three years now, the Yankees have done their job in providing Sanchez with all the teaching and mentoring needed to be a major league catcher. It hasn’t worked, and the team has suffered for it.
Call it what you want. Rehab from the groin injury, a mental health retreat, or just a plain exile eliminating a distraction from a team that’s on its way to the playoffs. Whatever the case, it’s the right move at the right time by the Yankees.