Gary Sanchez hasn't played in the last two games for the Yankees, and there's a good reason for manager Aaron Boone to make such a move.
The 27-year-old is laboring at the plate this year when the bat is in his hands with an MLB-worst .130 average in 100 at-bats. Seven of those hits might have gone over the fence, but with 48 strikeouts as well as a .237 on-base percentage, Boone gave Sanchez some time off to try and figure something out to find rhythm again at the plate.
He'll get the chance to show what he's been working on with hitting coach Marcus Thames on Tuesday night as Boone reinserts him into the lineup. Asked before the game whether or not he's focused on that .130 number, Sanchez owned up to his lack of production so far this season.
"Yeah, I try to stay away from seeing stats and things like that. From time to time, you look at the board but the honest reason is I know I'm not producing the way I would like to," he said through a team translator. "I don't need anybody to tell me that. I feel it. I see it, I feel it and I'm going through it. Try to stay away from looking at it and making the adjustment."
Sanchez' struggles span back to the past two seasons as well. He had a .186 average in 89 games in 2018 as he battled through multiple injuries. And last season, a .232 mark was an improvement but not where he wanted to be.
This season, though, it's hard to really make any excuses for Sanchez. He's not falling into bad luck with hard-hit balls going right at the defense. He's swinging and missing, chasing pitches out of the zone and missing those that he normally ropes to either gap. Simply put, he's just not himself at the dish right now.
What exactly he worked on with Thames wasn't explained by Sanchez, but when the game gets underway, he's looking to apply that and just stay positive on the field.
"Once the game starts, the adrenaline of the game kicks in. The competition, the level of energy of competition kicks in and you're focused on playing the game," he said. "Having fun out there, playing the right way and hoping for a good result. That's what you gotta focus on when the game starts."
"The Kraken" has long been considered the Yankees' next homegrown franchise catcher since Jorge Posada. But his production in recent seasons has made many skeptical that GM Brian Cashman will extend him long-term. Of course, Sanchez still has two more years of team control before hitting free agency in 2023, but that doesn’t mean Cashman couldn’t expedite extension talks if his play warranted it.
If Sanchez continues to remain in a funk and produce results well below the Mendoza line, it will be hard to convince the only team he’s known throughout his career that he should get an extension.
In the short-term, Sanchez will just focus on Tuesday night and the Blue Jays to face. His struggles will only be beaten one game, and one plate appearance, at a time.