Here’s what Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames had to say about Gary Sanchez.
New York Yankees fans (for the most part) were not happy with Gary Sanchez throughout the 2020 season. Everything finally boiled over in the shortened campaign and the concerns around the slugging catcher were further magnified. The warning signs came in 2018 and 2019, but everything appeared in full force (in the worst way) in 2020.
That led to trade rumors after Sanchez was benched in the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays. Some insiders went as far to suggest that the Yankees could even non-tender him, though that didn’t happen. Sanchez will be in the Bronx for 2021, but nobody really knows what to expect. It’s gotten to the point where he has to play winter ball because he has so many issues to overcome.
However, if hitting coach Marcus Thames’ latest comments are anything to trust, fans should be excited about a bounce back performance from Sanchez in 2021. Imagine if he’s firing on all cylinders. The Yankees would be unstoppable.
"“[Sanchez] felt like 2020 was a disaster for him. He knows it. … We watched a lot of video and he wasn’t slowing the game down with his lower half. He wasn’t staying behind the ball and he wasn’t recognizing pitches, so he was swinging at a lot of bad pitches, and swinging and missing. He normally doesn’t do that. We detected some things and I think he’s back,” Thames told the New York Post.“He was pumped up to play winter ball. He really has a will to get better. … It still feels new to him, but he’s making good moves to the baseball and looking like the Gary I’ve seen and we’ve been used to seeing. … We’re getting his swing where it needs to be for next season, so he can get back to being the player he’s been in the past, which I know he’s still capable of being.”"
Though Sanchez ended his time in the Dominican Winter League with a 2-for-20 slump, he looked to regain his footing a bit for a good portion of his time with Toros del Este. He was more patient at the plate, wasn’t getting endlessly fooled by off-speed pitches, and managed to make a lot of contact.
Though winter ball is hardly an indication of how he’ll perform with the Yankees, it’s important that Sanchez is at least doing better mentally, diagnosed what was holding him back so significantly the last couple of years, and is motivated to get back on the field to prove he’s capable of being the best hitting catcher in the game.
After all, Sanchez hit rock bottom. The only way to go is up. There’s a lot to be optimistic about.