3 Yankees players on short leashes as struggles continue

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 12: Kyle Higashioka #66 of the New York Yankees at bat during the fourth inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on April 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /

2. Kyle Higashioka

Yankee fans remain in a bind with Certified Spring Training Legend Kyle Higashioka.

Side note, after Deivi Garcia’s early struggles in Triple-A and Higashioka’s fall back to earth after seven spring home runs, what … is even the point … of those games? It’s almost as if they’re useless and should not be watched or judged. Interesting.

Higashioka, though, was widely expected to be a below-average offensive catcher in 2022 after an additional burden was placed on him with the departure of Gary Sánchez. He’d reportedly make up for his deficiencies with exceptional glovework (particularly framing) and would still have enough power bursts to make his offensive lulls palatable, finishing with 15-20 home runs maximum (likely more like 10-15).

Then he opened the season with one single hit during the homestand. Pair that with a couple of RBI singles and some much-needed energy from the also-defensively-excellent Jose Trevino in the series finale against the Blue Jays, and fans’ patience with Higashioka is wearing a bit thin.

Again, the Yankees dug this whole for themselves when Sánchez was dealt to Minnesota. They entered this season baking in an offensive downgrade behind the plate in the name of rededicating themselves to other causes.

But, as John Flaherty said on Thursday night’s pregame show, fans and the franchise can accept “offensive downgrades” at the bottom of the lineup. They cannot accept offensive black holes. Higashioka has to prove, and quickly, that after being handed a larger role, he won’t be coming up permanently empty.