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Sánchez eyes balance; Kriske optioned

@BryanHoch
August 4, 2020

NEW YORK – As the Yankees belt balls out of the ballpark at an impressive pace, Gary Sánchez is one of the few hitters who has experienced a slow start at the plate, but the catcher is earning consistent praise from the team’s new ace right-hander. For the third time

NEW YORK – As the Yankees belt balls out of the ballpark at an impressive pace, Gary Sánchez is one of the few hitters who has experienced a slow start at the plate, but the catcher is earning consistent praise from the team’s new ace right-hander.

For the third time in as many starts, Gerrit Cole spoke highly of his developing relationship with Sánchez following the Yanks’ 6-3 victory over the Phillies on Monday at Yankee Stadium. Cole credited Sánchez for guiding him through six innings of one-run ball, which bolstered his record to 3-0.

“I think it's going great,” Cole said. “He's always finding me in between the innings, communicating about what pitches he liked. He picked up on a couple tips in the batter's box [on Monday], which I thought was really helpful. He's been on his game behind the dish, especially pitch-calling and picking up some tips here and there.”

Sánchez went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the victory, and he's 2-for-25 (.080) with 14 strikeouts this year. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he believes Sánchez is showing signs of improvement offensively, dating to a solid at-bat in the final game of the Orioles' series on July 30.

“He had a couple of the games in the Boston series where I thought he was better,” Boone said. “He’s kind of chasing that hit a little bit. He's just got to continue to trust that he can control the zone and really stay in his legs. When he does, that will take off.”

Sánchez batted .232/.316/.525 with 34 homers and 77 RBIs in 106 games last season, compiling a 119 OPS+. Cole said that he and the Yankees’ pitchers have appreciated Sánchez’s dedication behind the plate, even as he battles a rough stretch in the batter’s box.

“It's not easy to not take the offense out on the field,” Cole said. “As players, we all kind of understand that. It's easy to rally around a guy that is really taking pride in his defense, even though he may be a little bit frustrated with how it's going in the batter's box.”

Making moves
Rookie right-hander Brooks Kriske was optioned to the Yankees’ alternate training site in Moosic, Pa., following Monday’s game, which could clear a roster spot for the club to activate right-hander Luis Cessa prior to Wednesday’s doubleheader in Philadelphia.

Cessa opened the season on the COVID-19 injured list after testing positive prior to Summer Camp. One of the hitters that Cessa faced during his rehab was Clint Frazier, and the hurler said that the slugging outfielder presented a tough challenge.

“He looks good. He looks stronger,” Cessa said. “I think he's ready. Everybody is just waiting for the opportunity to come back, but I think Clint looks good.”

Boone said that left-hander Aroldis Chapman is scheduled to throw from the bullpen mound at PNC Field -- home of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders -- on Tuesday or Wednesday.

‘Next man up’: Part II
The Yankees have endured three rain delays and three postponements through the early portion of their schedule, yet they will travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday riding a seven-game winning streak. They have started a season with an 8-1 record for the third time in franchise history, matching their hot starts from 1988 and 2003.

Brett Gardner said that he believes the Yankees are equipped to handle adversity because of their experiences last season, when the club set Major League records by having 30 players serve 39 stints on the injured list.

“It's basically the same group of guys that we had here last year, minus a few and with the addition of Gerrit,” Gardner said. “Last year, it seemed like something new every day was getting thrown at us, and we were able to go above and beyond. In some tough times, some dark times, we continued to play good baseball. I think that was a good way of preparing for this year and the things that we've had to deal with so far.”

Gardner said that the Yankees’ improved health has also been a benefit, especially as it relates to Aaron Judge, who would have likely missed the first several months of the season as he recovered from a fractured right rib. Instead, Judge was honored Monday as the American League’s Player of the Week.

“Last year, we were so good at that ‘next man up’ mentality,” Gardner said. “This year, we've got most of our guys healthy, which is great. Really, whatever gets thrown at us is something that we can work through. We've got a great group that sticks together and has fun together.”

Up next
With Tuesday’s game at Yankee Stadium postponed due to a forecast of severe weather, the Yankees and Phillies will play a doubleheader on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, with first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET. Each game will be a seven-inning contest.

The Yankees will be the home team for the first game of the doubleheader. The second game will start approximately 35 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.