There were few more ardent supporters of Gary Sanchez than myself. No other catcher has hit more home runs since he was called up. I was willing to live with the spotty defense in return for the elite hitting. However, after last night, Sanchez has cashed in his last chit with me.
The lack of hustle he displayed running after the passed ball in the first inning was inexcusable. To be fair, Luis Severino wasn’t exactly busting his butt to cover home plate either and Jake Bauers exploited the laziness of the two stars and went from second to home on a passed ball.
Yankees’ fans are used to Sanchez gaffes. Some can be overlooked but lack of hustle isn’t something that can be overlooked. To compound matters, in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and two out Sanchez stepped to the plate. He hit a grounder that was fielded by the second baseman Daniel Robertson who tossed the ball to shortstop Willy Adames who tried to step on second. Aaron Hicks, however, beat Adames who then had to rush to throw to first. He got Sanchez by a step. Inning over, ballgame over. Sanchez, as the video showed, was barely jogging to first. He tried to turn on the jets when he saw the play developing. Too little, too late.
This isn’t the first time the Yankees had issues with Sanchez and his attitude, and that is what lack of hustle is, attitude. It wasn’t long ago that Sanchez got benched in Trenton for refusing to catch a bullpen session. The Yankees acted swiftly and Sanchez got the message and busted his butt to get better and improve his attitude.
The Yankees need to send a message to Sanchez and send it loud and clearly. Lollygagging can’t and won’t be tolerated. The veterans in the clubhouse need to get in Sanchez’s face at the same time management sends him a message by benching him, or better yet, sending him down to the minor leagues to work on his mechanics both behind the plate and with the bat.
This season has been tough on Sanchez. He got off to a slow start at the plate that just spiraled out of control and his defense behind the plate suffered as a result. To date, he is hitting just .188/.283/.416 with 14 home runs and 14 doubles in 66 games. That is a far cry from the .278/.345/.531 slash line he posted last season with 33 home runs.
The talent is there. The rest is up to Sanchez. His head isn’t in the game for whatever reason. The Yankees need to send a message to him that this kind of lackadaisical play won’t be accepted. Send him to the minor leagues to both send a message and allow him to work on his swing. Let him regain confidence. Let him understand that he hasn’t been living up to the standards of a Yankee in the effort department. At the very least maybe he can learn to lay off of sliders low and away. The Yankees need to do something right now, they can’t wait. The longer this goes on the worse it will get and it might spread to other young players in the clubhouse and lead to some serious issues. The time is now. Send the message.