On Friday, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi spiritedly defended catcher Gary Sanchez’s defense.
He said Sanchez was his catcher and he was happy with progress Sanchez has made. Girardi has not wavered on starting Sanchez at catcher for a wildcard, winner-take-all game.
If he did not start Sanchez at catcher, he could use the power-hitting Sanchez, who is batting .278 with 33 home runs and 90 RBIs, as the designated hitter. That would allow Austin Romine, the trusted backup catcher to start.
However, Girardi was adamant in sticking with Sanchez, despite the 24-year old leading the Majors in passed balls with 16.
Through his interpreter, Sanchez told reporters he appreciated the words from Girardi but was preparing for whatever scenario that might take place.
He said he was ready for wherever the manager decided to play him, as it is his job to be prepared and ready.
Girardi added that the ERA of the pitching staff is 3.46 when Sanchez is behind the plate, as opposed to the 4.30 when Romine plays, entering this weekend’s games against Toronto.
The Yankees skipper said that everyone wants only to focus on two balls that he allowed to get by him, but what about the 13 or 14 he was able to block?
He referred to the passed ball and the wild pitch that scored a pair of runs on Thursday with Sanchez catching Sonny Gray during a fifth inning in which Tampa scored seven runs and defeated the Yankees 9-6.
The year has not gone how he wanted it to defensively, said Sanchez, but he feels he has made an improvement the last few months.
Gray said he did not have command of this pitches Thursday and backed the defense played by Sanchez.
Girardi does not regret when he called out Sanchez in August for lapses on defense when the catcher struggled with blocking balls.
Girardi told reporters that all he was doing in August was being honest with Sanchez and telling the catcher he must improve. The Yankees manager said that since then Sanchez has showed improvement and worked hard to reach where he is now.
Girardi also said that the Yankees pitchers such as Gray and Masahiro Tanaka are two of the toughest to catch due to having such biting breaking balls.
Luis Severino would pitch a wildcard game Tuesday if the Yankees cannot catch Boston and win the AL East. He would face the Twins and Girardi likes how familiar Severino and Sanchez are with one another, since they were paired when in the minors and the past two seasons with the Yankees.