Yankees’ catcher Gary Sanchez has endured a season-long sophomore slump, but the bulk of his blunders have come from behind the plate, rather than inside the batter’s box.
On Friday night against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, the 24-year-old committed his 12th passed ball of the season — a major league-high — in the Yankees’ 7-2 loss, dropping their record to 57-51 overall and 0-4 in the month of August.
The error, which came in the second inning with Indians’ Austin Jackson scoring from third base, was the so-called “breaking point” for Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi, and after the game, he spoke of his impatience with Sanchez’s poor defense.
“He needs to improve. Bottom line,” Girardi told reporters. “He’s late getting down. That’s what I see sometimes, and it’s something we’ve been working on and we continue to work on. He’s capable of doing a better job.”
Sanchez has hit a respectable .267 with 17 home runs and 52 RBI in 76 games this season, but his underwhelming work as a backstop has shrouded any offensive production of late.
“Some of those [passed balls] have been mix-ups with the signs, but tonight that was not the case. [Roberto] Perez tried to bunt or fake bunt, and in that split-second I lost [the ball],” Sanchez told the New York Daily News. “I feel good behind the plate, but there’s definitely been a couple situations there where I haven’t been able to catch the ball, and it’s cost us.”
So, would a temporary solution have Sanchez assume designated hitter duties in place of veteran Matt Holliday, who’s hit a dreadful .136 (11-for-81) since returning from a three-week illness back on July 14?
“We’re trying to think of everything, so we’ll talk about everything, ” Girardi said when asked of that potential lineup switch. “As of now, I have not.”
Joe Girardi recaps Friday night’s 7-2 loss & Gary Sanchez’s defensive struggles behind the plate. pic.twitter.com/wAas78EHGX