Leaner Gary Sanchez ready to put defensive woes behind him

TAMPA — A leaner looking Gary Sanchez said he didn’t lose any weight this offseason, but perhaps his new build will help him behind the plate, where he struggled at times a year ago.

“This offseason, I worked really hard on defense because I want to be better than last year,’’ Sanchez said through a translator Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “I want to fix all the little issues I had last year defensively and keep improving.”

Those issues included allowing as many passed balls (16) as any catcher in baseball, as well as the second most wild pitches (53). Those numbers improved in the second half, but they led former manager Joe Girardi to bench and publicly criticize Sanchez.

With Aaron Boone in charge, Sanchez said he holds no grudge against Girardi.

“Looking back at all the things Girardi said, I feel all that stuff he said was to make me be better,’’ Sanchez said. “At the end of the year, I thought he helped me get better. It’s tough to go through, but you have to learn from that and keep getting better. You also have to move on.”

That’s among his goals for 2018.

Sanchez missed much of the early part of last season with a strained biceps, and when he returned, he was a force again at the plate.

While he couldn’t duplicate the historic numbers he put up when he hit 20 homers in 229 plate appearances in his breakout rookie season, Sanchez hit 33 homers in his first full season in the majors.

The presence of Giancarlo Stanton, along with Aaron Judge, gives the Yankees three of the most feared right-handed hitters in the game.

“It’s a great acquisition,’’ Sanchez said of Stanton’s arrival from Miami. “It’s a big powerful bat in a lineup that’s gonna contribute a lot. … It caught me by surprise when I heard the news [of the trade].”

Sanchez hopes the season ends with the Yankees getting back to the playoffs.

“We’ll try to do what we did last year,’’ Sanchez said. “There’s definitely motivation whenever you get to be a part of a playoff run and be part of that atmosphere. You want to keep doing that every year. I feel great and am ready to go.”

Source: https://nypost.com/2018/02/13/leaner-gary-sanchez-ready-to-put-defensive-woes-behind-him/

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