It turns out one of the best catchers the game has ever seen doesn’t think highly of New York Yankees’ backstop Gary Sanchez at the moment.
Ivan Rodriguez, who, don’t forget, played a half-season with the Yankees, had some out-of-nowhere critical comments about Sanchez just when the discourse surrounding the controversial slugger managed to slow down.
But now we’re back in the Gary hamster wheel and we really don’t like the sound of this. Usually, you’d tune out any nonsensical noise that’s only serving to be a distraction, but it’s not exactly easy to do that when a Hall of Famer is making statements like this. After all, wouldn’t someone of this caliber understand what it means to be motivated?
Here’s what Pudge had to say about El Gary:
"“He doesn’t enjoy baseball right now,” Rodriguez said, via WFAN Sports Radio. “He feels like…he comes to the ballpark and it’s a depressing thing for him right now. That’s what I see when he’s playing.“I think he has too much pressure on himself. He’s trying to do too much. I’ve talked to him a few times and he’s very positive. But Gary plays in an organization and in a city where obviously, you have to do a good job pretty much every night.“That’s the part of the game that he needs to work the most. The pressure part of the game he needs to work on. He needs to breathe, he needs to relax himself. He needs to believe that he’s a great player. Now because (the mental) part of his game is not there he feels like everything else he doesn’t have.”"
That’s some sobering stuff. And when you consider Gary’s performance in the Dominican Winter League wasn’t that great (.245 average, .789 OPS), it’s clear he’s not past whatever he’s struggling with. However, all that matters is how he performs in 2021.
It’s encouraging to hear Rodriguez and Sanchez have had conversations (Pudge revealed that later on, noting that Sanchez is a “good kid”), which are likely giving El Gary the insight and perspective he needs to get back on track, but the fact this is what Pudge has seen every time the Yankees’ catcher has stepped on the field recently is sadly a confirmation of what fans have felt.
Even worse? It continues to feel lie Sanchez has a long road ahead, and time is running out for him. He needs to show the Yankees he can be their franchise catcher in 2021, or else this relationship is over.
Then again, there will be a renewed energy surrounding the Bombers next season, so Sanchez will have a prime opportunity to absorb it, run with it, and prove all the doubters wrong.