When Gary Sanchez landed on the 10-day IL with a left calf strain on April 12th the expectation was that he wouldn’t be out for very long. Fortunately for the Yankees, that still seems to be the case as Sanchez is expected to return to the lineup in Anaheim on Wednesday.
Sanchez was eligible to come off the IL on Sunday but the Yankees plan was always to have him play a rehab game before rejoining the club. Since there were no minor league games on Easter Sanchez will play tonight for the Class A Charleston Riverdogs before flying out west on Tuesday to be activated from the IL for Wednesday’s game.
Getting Sanchez back this week comes at an ideal time for the Yanks after their superstar Aaron Judge was placed on the IL with an oblique injury over the weekend. The timetable for Judge’s return is uncertain right now but we can assume he’s going to be out for a while after Aaron Boone said his oblique strain was “pretty significant.”
Judge is now the 13th Yankees to land on the IL this season and the sixth member of their Opening Day lineup to go down. It’s absolutely insane how much this Yankee team has been ravaged by injuries but somehow they’ve managed to get off to a respectable 11-10 start to the season.
Losing a perennial MVP candidate like Aaron Judge for an extended period is obviously a massive blow because he is truly irreplaceable. However, if there is anyone capable of mimicking his level of offensive production and helping this team whether the storm until some reinforcements arrive it’s Gary Sanchez.
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Sanchez had a miserable 2018 campaign that was highly publicized but before he went down with the calf strain this season he had gotten of to a terrific start. In just 11 games played Sanchez hit a team-leading six home runs and had 11 RBI while hitting .268 with an OPS of 1.065. The Kraken of old who burst onto the scene in 2016 and made the All-Star team in 2017 was back.
When Sanchez returns on Wednesday the hope is that he can pick up right where he left off and won’t have to shake off a lot of rust from the short layoff. The Yankees desperately need his bat back in the heart of their order because right now the lineup looks like one you’d see in a split-squad game during Spring Training.
On Sunday the Yanks pulled out a 6-5 win thanks to the heroics of Sanchez’s backup Austin Romine to take three of four from the Royals. They did so with a lineup that featured Brett Gardner batting third, Mike Tauchman batting fifth and Gio Urshela batting sixth. Credit to them and the rest of the lineup for getting the win but if the Yankees are going to continue to put up runs and rise up the AL East standings they need Sanchez to carry the load.
The same goes for Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres as well as Clint Frazier who has been outstanding since being called up after Giancarlo Stanton went down with a biceps strain. The Yankees are still a ways away from getting everyone back healthy but in the meantime, if Sanchez and company can play to their full potential this team can still win at a high rate.