Yankees Gary Sanchez: He’s Showing Us That He “Gets It”
The Yankees have been waiting for some time to hear from their star catcher’s decision as to whether or not he would play in the World Baseball Classic this year. A sigh of relief was heard throughout the Bronx when they learned he would forego the opportunity and concentrate on the Yankees instead.
Yankees catcher, Gary Sanchez, has been grappling with making a decision about playing in the World Baseball Classic, scheduled to begin in a few weeks. Yesterday, at the annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner in Manhattan, Sanchez announced that he would not play in the tournament.
For the Yankees and their fans, his decision appears to mark a significant stride forward because it signals that his “head” is screwed on tightly. And with players these days, that is not something that can be taken for granted. In short, Gary Sanchez is beginning to show us that he “gets it.”
Except for that day’s starting pitcher, Gary Sanchez is demonstrating that he knows he is the most valuable Yankees position player on the field, on any given day. He knows that defensively, his concentration level must be at its peak on every pitch. And that he going to be relied on to make decisions on the fly in determining which pitches are working for the pitcher that
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day, and which pitches are not. And among the opposing hitters, who’s hot and who’s not.
He knows, too, that the Yankees are counting on him to be a run producer offensively. And that his gaudy stats from last year are (now) only numbers that appear next to his name in the record books. He also knows that, traditionally, he is a slow starter, and what the manifestation of that might mean for him this season, as well as for the Yankees.
So, it should not be surprising to hear Sanchez tell Brendan Kuty of NJ.Com:
“I’ve only been in the big leagues for about two months and I know it went well but I still think there’s a lot I have to do preparation-wise to be able to catch for a full season for the first time,”
Staggering, when you think about it, isn’t it? Sanchez has been a big-leaguer for all of two months. 20 home runs and 42 RBI says that he is the reincarnation of Barry Bonds, without the steroids. But what if he’s only the reincarnation of Carlton Fisk, Mike Piazza, or even Thurman Munson for that matter? And will there be boos heard at Yankee Stadium the first time he falls into a 3-24 slump with 12 strikeouts when the ball no longer looks the size of a beach ball as it’s traveling toward him from 60 feet away?
And maybe that’s why Sanchez is doing his best to play down the expectations, telling NJ.Com:
“I’ve always been a slow starter,” he said. “So I’m not changing anything in particular. But I am approaching this spring training with a lot of intensity and I’m not resting on my laurels after the two months that I had last season.”
It’s been a good long while since a Yankees position rose from the ranks, primed with the task of being a runs producer. You can’t count Alex Rodriguez, who played for two other teams before coming to the Yankees. And you can’t even count Derek Jeter who, for everything he was, he never carried that explosive bat in the lineup that could break up games with one swing of the bat.
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For now, let’s simply be thankful that Gary Sanchez will report to Spring Training on time, not to be bothered by the distraction of the WBC. Hopefully, the rest will take care of itself.