After being tendered a contract by the Yankees on Wednesday, Gary Sanchez made his 2020 Dominican Winter League debut on Friday, playing for Toros Del Este.
The 28-year-old batted fourth and served as the designated hitter, going 1-for-5 with three strikeouts.
According to NJ.com, Sanchez worked the count against fellow Yankee Albert Abreu, then blooped a single into right for a single. Abreu got Sanchez swinging in his first at-bat, while also striking out against Red Sox farmhand Robinson Leyer and 37-year-old former Major Leaguer Jairo Ascenio. Sanchez also flied out to left field against former Met Hansel Robles.
Sanchez is in his second year of arbitration eligibility and is under team control through the 2022 season, but is looking for a major comeback season in 2021. He slashed .147/.253/.365 with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in 178 plate appearances last in 2020, while backup catcher Kyle Higashioka began serving as Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher midway through the season.
The offense is surely there somewhere. Sanchez finished second in Rookie of the Year voting despite playing in just 2016 and is a two-time All-Star, slugging a combined 77 home runs in 2017 and 2019.
But he regressed in each of the following years, failing to achieve an OPS of over .700 in either 2018 in 2020.
So Sanchez is opting to get in his work in the Dominican Republic this winter. With Toros Del Este 14 games into a pandemic-shortened 30-game LIDOM season, there isn’t a ton of time left. But something is better than nothing as the catcher looks to right the ship before Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa in February.