NEW YORK -- Gary Sanchez said that he did not flinch when Joe Girardi sought him out this week, informing the catcher that he was about to be dropped in the batting order. As long as he continues to play, Sanchez told the Yankees' manager that he would be satisfied
NEW YORK -- Gary Sanchez said that he did not flinch when Joe Girardi sought him out this week, informing the catcher that he was about to be dropped in the batting order. As long as he continues to play, Sanchez told the Yankees' manager that he would be satisfied with any opportunity to influence the game.
As he continues to adjust to his new No. 6 spot in the lineup, the slugging backstop did plenty of that on Thursday, homering twice off David Price as part of a five-RBI performance while also throwing out Mookie Betts on a steal attempt in the Yankees' 9-1 victory over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
"If I'm in the lineup, I'm happy with that just to have the opportunity to play," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I wasn't doing my job hitting second, and now [Girardi] has me hitting sixth. That's fine. As long as I can contribute, that will always be fine."
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Sanchez, who now has four homers in seven career at-bats off Price, launched a three-run shot to left field in the third inning that had an exit velocity of 107.6 mph and traveled a projected 421 feet, according to Statcast™.
The Yanks were even happier to see Sanchez go the opposite way in the sixth with a two-run drive to right that came off the bat at 109.7 mph and flew a projected 412 feet. Sanchez is just the second player in history with five multi-homer games in his first 87 career games, joining Mark McGwire (1987).
"I think he's starting to feel it a little bit now; it's exciting," teammate Aaron Judge said. "Every time that guy comes to the plate, he's due to do some damage. You can just tell by the way he's taking certain pitches, he's attacking the right pitches. When he swings, something good is going to happen."
Proving that he is all the way back after missing 21 games with a right biceps strain, Sanchez showed off his arm in the first inning by throwing out Betts at second base. He displayed a 1.84-second pop time with 85.8-mph arm strength, his second-best readings of the season in both categories.
It was no gimme: Betts' 3.58-second time from first to second base was tied for his second-fastest time on a steal attempt since 2015, when such stats started to be recorded by Statcast™. Girardi lauded both Sanchez and shortstop Didi Gregorius, who was shaken up on the play.
"Gary makes a great throw, and even a better play by Didi," Girardi said. "I think Didi got spiked in the chest a little bit."
After belting 20 homers in 53 games last season, Sanchez faced sky-high expectations in 2017, entering the year touted as the new face of the Yankees. The early-April DL stint allowed Judge to enter that spotlight instead, but Sanchez said he still has time to reach his season goals.
"I never wanted to get injured, but it's part of baseball and it happens," Sanchez said. "But we have a really long season. We have three or four more months, so I can still accomplish what I have in my mind that I would like to accomplish."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.