Duo returns to Bronx -- and one of them goes VERY deep

Sánchez, with 473-foot HR Monday, Urshela thriving in Minnesota after Yanks trade

September 5th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Before Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Yankees, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli had nothing but good things to say about catcher and third baseman , who are making their return to Yankee Stadium for the first time since the Yankees traded them to Minnesota this past March for third baseman Josh Donaldson, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt.

“It feels good [to be back],” said Urshela, who went 0-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base. “I have a lot of memories in the last three years that I spent [in New York]. I’m excited to play again against my old teammates.”

Sánchez made his presence resoundingly known with a mammoth two-run home run that tied the opener of this four-game series at 2 in the fifth inning. The clout was projected by Statcast to travel 473 feet into the left-field bleachers -- the fourth-longest home run this season.

“I felt really good, excited. It’s really exciting to be back to play against a team that gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues,” Sánchez said. “I felt good at the moment I hit it because it tied the game. … It would have been more exciting if we won the game.”

Sánchez and Urshela are two of the reasons the Twins were tied with the Guardians for first place in the American League Central heading into Monday's action -- the loss, coupled with Cleveland's win over the Royals later Monday night, moved Minnesota one game back.

According to Baldelli, Sánchez has improved behind the plate and he is a great teammate. When he was with the Yankees, Sánchez had a reputation of being a liability with the glove, marked by the 15 errors he committed in 2019. He has made only three errors this season.

“I came in with an open mind, and he's done nothing but work,” Baldelli said about Sánchez. “The way he has worked with our pitchers has really been impressive. I think he has dedicated himself in a lot of ways to understanding what it takes to be a good Major League catcher. You learn that over time.

“But on that side of the ball, he has done a real nice job for us by learning the intricacies of the new organization -- what we want from our guys, whether that’s game-calling or working with our catchers or anything we ask him to do.”

Sánchez said the improvement behind the plate is because he has been working with catching coach Hank Conger on a regular basis.

“He helps me every single day to make adjustments and get better throughout the season,” Sánchez said.

One inning after Sánchez's majestic blast, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge connected for his 54th homer of the season -- tying the franchise record for most homers in a single season by a right-handed batter -- and is now on pace for an AL record 65.

A teammate of Judge's for six seasons, Sánchez is impressed with what he has seen from the superstar, who is leading the Major Leagues in several categories including home runs, RBIs, OPS and OPS+.

“He is having a great year. I’m really happy for him,” Sánchez said. “He is a tremendous baseball player. I witnessed him hitting 52 home runs in 2017. Right now, he has 54. It’s unbelievable what he is doing.”

Urshela, meanwhile, said his biggest memories with the Yankees are going to the postseason all three years he was in pinstripes.

“It’s a lot different. There's a lot of energy. Good memories,” he said.

He has been rock solid at third base, having made only five errors in 110 games. Urshela also has been clutch with the bat, going 19-for-54 (.352) in late and close situations.

“He has been so consistent and productive. I don’t know where we would be without him in a lot of ways,” Baldelli said. “He has come up with so many big moments this year, where he uses all that know-how and awareness that he has. He puts himself in a good position to succeed on the field.”