Yankees: Gary Sanchez feeling close to 100 percent after shoulder surgery

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 28: Gary Sanchez
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 28: Gary Sanchez /

When Gary Sanchez underwent left shoulder surgery earlier this offseason on November 8th the expectation was that his recovery time would be about three months. Fortunately for the Yankees that was an accurate timetable because according to Sanchez, he is already feeling close to 100% entering Spring Training.

On Tuesday Sanchez and the rest of the Yankees pitchers and catchers reported to camp where Sanchez met with the media for the first time. According to reports, Sanchez is looking a lot leaner this spring and is feeling healthy just over three months removed from surgery.

Per Randy Miller of NJ.com:

"“I can say right now I feel normal,” he said. “I’m close to 100 percent.”"

Sanchez has been a full participant at team workouts so far, but the Yankees plan on bringing him along slowly. He’s expected to be ready for Opening Day although he probably won’t appear in any games until the second week of Grapefruit play so we could see him make his debut around March 2nd or 3rd. That should give him plenty of time to get him the required amount of at-bats a hitter needs to feel comfortable heading into the regular season.

The Yankees are expecting a big bounce-back season from Sanchez in 2019 and if he’s fully healthy that could go a long way. Sanchez apparently had been dealing with discomfort in his left shoulder dating all the way back to the 2017 season and received multiple cortisone shots in the past two years.

Sanchez himself would never blame the shoulder or his groin injury for the lackluster campaign he had a season ago, but it definitely played a big role. Sanchez hit an abysmal .186 in 2018 but he still managed to hit 18 HR and drive in 53 runs in just 89 games. He also struggled defensively and earned criticism for a lack of hustle at times during the season.

Anyone who’s watched Sanchez since he entered the league knows he’s a much better player than what the numbers showed last season. In 2016 he burst onto the scene to hit .299 with 20 HR and 42 RBI in just 53 games. In 2017 he made his first All-Star team and hit .278, with 33 HR and 90 RBI despite missing a month of the season.

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The defense is still a work in progress for Sanchez when it comes to blocking balls, but he’s always controlled the running game and done a good job handling the pitching staff. Now that he’s lost more slimmed down more this winter and his groin is healthy he should be much more active behind the plate defensively.

I think Sanchez is a leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year because as long as he can stay healthy over the course of a full season he’s going to put up huge numbers. I’m sure his manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman agree because even after Sanchez’s struggles last season they’ve continued to have his back and haven’t lost confidence in his abilities.

Boone visited Sanchez and his family at his home in the Dominican Republic during the offseason and came away from the trip believing his 26-year-old catcher is poised to have a big year. Per Coley Harvey of ESPN:

"“There’s a real hunger to go out and show how good a player he is,” Boone said. “He’s going to have a great year for us on both sides of the ball. I’m really excited about his frame of mind right now, and we’re counting on and expecting him to go out and be a great player for us.”"

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A lot of pressure will be on Sanchez this season, but now that his shoulder is all cleaned up and he’s in a good spot mentally there’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to bounce back in a big way.