BALTIMORE — Gary Sanchez’s numbers might say otherwise, but the catcher doesn’t think his early-season woes are the same as the ones that plagued him throughout his nightmarish 2020.
“I don’t consider myself in a slump that people believe,’’ Sanchez said through an interpreter after Thursday’s 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Orioles, when Sanchez returned to the lineup for the first time since losing his starting job to Kyle Higashioka. “I feel like I’m close.”
After losing his starting job to Higashioka during last year’s playoffs, Sanchez played winter ball in the Dominican Republic and spent much of the offseason working at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, but the results haven’t followed.
He looked better at the plate Thursday, stinging a liner to left in his first at-bat and adding a single and two walks.
“I feel good. I feel healthy,’’ Sanchez said. “I’d love to play every day. It’s not my decision. I’ve got to stay ready.”
Asked why he didn’t think he was in as bad a stretch as last year, Sanchez said, “It’s early. It’s not even a month into the season.”
Overall, Sanchez said he feels “a lot better” at the plate, and while it’s “tough” to balance his offensive work with his work behind the plate, he added, “I do not think my defensive work is affecting my offense in any way.”
Of Aaron Boone’s decision, Sanchez said, “[Higashioka’s] gonna play, I’m gonna play. I have to be ready.”
The Astros don’t make their first visit to The Bronx until Tuesday, but their former manager, A.J. Hinch, will be there Friday with the Tigers.
Hinch lost his job and served a one-year suspension for his role in Houston’s sign-stealing scandal of their 2017 championship season and Aaron Boone — a longtime friend of Hinch’s — said again Thursday he’s “done” with the subject, but he knows not everyone is.
“I’m sure he’s gonna face the fans chirping or yelling or whatever throughout [the season],’’ Boone said. “I guess that’s to be expected. But I don’t think it’s too big of an issue.”
And it definitely isn’t for Boone.
“I would say I am done with that and put behind me,’’ Boone said Thursday. “He’s had to pay a price for that. I, as most of us have, tried to move on and leave it at that.”
Luke Voit was expected to take live at-bats Thursday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee in March.
The first baseman will need to play some rehab games once the minor league season begins on Tuesday, “and not just a handful,’’ Boone said.
“It’s important not only for him to regularly see live pitching that he hasn’t seen in five or six weeks, but also from an endurance standpoint,’’ Boone said. “Coming off a knee cleanup, playing nine innings, back-to-back [days] and moving around.”
The Yankees’ offense has missed Voit, who led the majors with 22 homers last season. They tried Jay Bruce to open the season, but Bruce didn’t do much at the plate and opted to retire. They’ve since used DJ LeMahieu and Mike Ford at first, but their lineup is at its best with Voit at first and LeMahieu at second.
That could happen soon, but it doesn’t seem like it will be next week.
Michael King was optioned back to the alternate site after Wednesday’s win despite having now thrown 11 scoreless innings in three outings this season. King is the only pitcher — besides newly acquired Wandy Peralta — who has minor league options, which is why he’s shuttled back and forth.
“It’s not performance-related,’’ Boone said. “It’s more of a roster crunch. He’s the odd man out right now.”
King will be stretched out at Scranton, along with Deivi Garcia, so they can be used as starters in The Bronx if needed.
“[King] is proving he can handle a number of roles,’’ Boone said.
Peralta, the lefty acquired from the Giants in exchange for Mike Tauchman, was available out of the bullpen Thursday and Boone said the 29-year-old could be used in high-leverage situations.
“He gives us a little bit of a different look, even with our left-handed relievers,’’ Boone said.
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2021/04/29/yankees-gary-sanchez-denies-being-in-slump/ on .