In the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t the most important night in Gary Sanchez‘s career, but it was definitely an important one.
Gary Sanchez went 0-for-3 for the Charleston RiverDogs in a rehab assignment with an infield popup, a weak half-swing grounder to shortstop and a hot shot to shortstop that was ably handled. He struggled catching as well with two passed balls and other pitches he struggled to handle.
The RiverDogs would drop the game 7-1 to the Kannapolis Intimidators in front of 6588 fans at Joe Riley Park in Charleston. The Intimidators jumped on Dogs starter Alexander Vizcaino for four runs highlighted by a three-run home run down the left field line onto Fishburne Street from Gunnar Troutwine. The RiverDogs lone run came from first baseman Eric Wagaman‘s own shot to left for his first home run of the season.
It was a successful stint for Sanchez in that he came through without any sign of injury after five innings which was the plan all the while.
Before the game, Sanchez reflected on his previous time in Charleston along with providing in insight into the 2019 New York Yankees and their mindset after so many injuries to key cogs in their roster.
Sanchez addressed the media before the game and talked about walking through the RiverDogs clubhouse doors for the first time since 2012 when he was climbing the minor league ladder towards stardom with the Yankees. “When I walked in, nothing changed. Everything felt really familiar. Everything felt really good,” Sanchez said.
“It was a little tougher for me. I was young and I didn’t speak much English. It was hard for me. I went through some ups and downs but by the end of the season I did really good,” Sanchez said about his time in Charleston.
When asked about what he was looking to get out of his rehab stint in Charleston, Sanchez was confident he’s on the fast track back to the Yankees clubhouse. “I feel pretty good. I was practicing in New York before I came over here and have done a lot a work with the trainers. I’ve done a lot of catching drills. I feel like I’m right on pace to play right now,” Sanchez said.
Even with his confidence, he’s not going to rush anything to get back. “I went through a couple of tough injuries, especially last year. I went through it a couple of times. I understand the process. I have to get ready to play again,” Sanchez said.
Even though Sanchez and a lot of his Yankees teammates have missed time on the field with injury, that doesn’t hurt their ability to support and help while on the bench. “The guys that are hurt right now and working to get back, and they also are being good support to their teammates right now and helping them out mentally and with their games. We’re working hard to get back and get back to our main goal, which is to win the World Series,” Sanchez said. “I don’t think we’re too far, because if everyone gets healthy and we get a full lineup, I don’t think we’re too far away from it. I think we can come back and win a World Series.”
This philosophy has trickled down to his time with the RiverDogs. Sanchez has been in the same exact spot many of the current RiverDogs have been in. “It feels pretty good because I’ve been talking to some of the guys and I know a lot of them from Tampa so it’s good.” Sanchez said.
RiverDogs manager Julio Mosquera also talked about Sanchez’s influence in his short stint with the team. “Everybody was excited when they saw that he was coming because some of those guys, they’re going to pick his brain too because he played here when he was young like them playing in this league, so they’re going to ask him questions and watch him go about his business and hopefully they’ll learn some,” Mosquera said.
Sanchez’s presence not only impacts the players, but the manager himself. “My experience in this organization has been fantastic and the organization treats us well and there’s nothing better to see guys like Gary and all the players come through the organization and have spent some time. It makes you feel good to see their development from a young age and see the things they go through in the organization to get where they are now that makes us happy and it something that literally drives us to keep us working with the young guys,” Mosquera said.
Before the press conference dispersed, Sanchez quipped to RiverDogs general manger Dave Echols, “You better give me a ring if you win a championship!”