Yankees not buying the simplest explanation for Gary Sanchez slump

Gary Sanchez says his bothersome left thumb is OK. Aaron Boone agrees and hitting coach Marcus Thames insists it’s not an issue.

Well, if that’s the case, why has the All-Star catcher been in such a slump?

“He’s trying to do too much,” Thames said before the Yankees hosted the Rays in the Bronx on Tuesday. “He’s getting out of the strike zone and we’ve got to get him back in the strike zone, so he can go back to being himself.”

Still, it’s hard to ignore the results since Sanchez was removed from a 12-8 win over Boston on June 30. He immediately went hitless in his next dozen at-bats. After Tuesday’s 8-3 win over the Rays, Sanchez is just 4-for-37 with three extra-base hits, a pair of walks and 17 strikeouts in 41 plate appearances over a 10-game stretch.

Boone said he didn’t believe the two were connected.

“It’s a tough stretch for him,” Boone said. “He is not putting pitches he should in play when he gets that one he can really pop. It’s more a foul ball or just he’s missing. And such is the ebb and flow of a season, but I don’t think it is thumb-related.”

Thames added Sanchez hadn’t even mentioned a thumb issue to him.

“He hasn’t said anything to me, but you can just see his exit velo of balls he does put in play, everything is still the same,” Thames said.

To their point — which might not be a good thing — Sanchez’s woes at the plate extend beyond when he left the game at the end of June.

After a sizzling three games in June during which Sanchez hit three homers, had two doubles and drove in seven runs in victories over the Rays and Astros, he’s hit a wall.

Another culprit could be the number of games Sanchez has caught this season.

He started behind the plate again on Tuesday, his 59th of the season. Sanchez is on pace to start 102 games at catcher this season, which would be a career high for the 26-year-old.

Perhaps the added workload has played a role in his decreased production and higher strikeout ratio — but Thames also shot down that idea.

“Actually, he talks about how if he catches more, he gets stronger,” Thames said. “When he came up, he caught a lot, so that’s not an excuse he can use either.”

Thames’ advice to Sanchez, then, is simple: “Just go be a good ballplayer. Don’t try to overanalyze anything.”

But as the hitting coach added: “That can be easier said than done.”

“When you look up and you’re not getting any hits, it’s natural to get away from what you’ve been doing,” Thames said. “You can’t try to get three hits in one at-bat. It’s all part of a long season.”

And Thames is optimistic the downturn won’t last much longer.

“He’s staying confident and that’s the key,” Thames said. “He knows he can hit. Mechanics-wise, everything has been good. He’s just swinging at everything right now, but he just needs to have some success to get back to himself.”

Source: Read Full Article