Sanchez heading to Tampa to prep for rehab

Yankees catcher tests right groin injury without problem

August 17th, 2018

NEW YORK -- His balky right groin healed enough for him to possibly test it in games as early as next week, Yankees catcher took several big steps in his road back to the field on Friday at Yankee Stadium.

Sanchez tested the groin without issue in a variety of baseball activities over the course of an afternoon -- running with increased intensity, throwing to bases as part of a full fielding workout and taking on-field batting practice for the first time since returning to the disabled list on July 24. The plan is for Sanchez to depart Sunday for the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla., where he'll undergo at least one similar-style workout. A formal rehab assignment could follow shortly thereafter.

"Gary had a really good day," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "He's on track."

Boone cautioned, though, that Sanchez's rehab assignment could be a lengthy one. The Yankees want to ensure Sanchez does not suffer another flare-up; the first forced him back to the DL five days after he was reinstated. Sanchez has already missed 41 games due to the injury, which he initially suffered June 24 against the Rays. His first DL stint lasted 20 games. This recent one has already eclipsed that in length.

Boone said Sanchez's assignment could start in the Gulf Coast League so Sanchez can remain close to the club's Tampa facility. If all goes well, Sanchez would then be transferred up the system to find his timing against better competition.

"We want to make sure he's running and catching a lot," Boone said.

One of baseball's top offensive catchers since his rookie year in 2016, Sanchez got off to a slow start this season and saw his production sag throughout the spring. All told, Sanchez is hitting .188/.283/.416 with 14 home runs in 66 games. But the effect of his absence on the Yankees' lineup has been plain to see. New York is scoring more than a third of a run fewer per game without Sanchez (4.81 runs per game) than it did with him (5.16 runs per game), and even fewer (4.65 per game) in the 20 contests the Yankees have had to endure without both Sanchez and , who remains out with a chip fracture in his right wrist.

Though he was hopeful to test the wrist with a set of dry swings on Friday, soreness from a game of catch delayed Judge from crossing the hurdle for at least another day. He might attempt the drills again on Saturday. 

"We're waiting for [the soreness] to be out of there," Boone said. "Once it is, then we'll go. But we're not going to press it, especially now since we've waited this long. When he starts swinging a bat, you'll know he's getting close and the pain is out of there."

The Yankees are just a game over .500 since Sanchez returned to the DL. They are 10-10 without both Sanchez and Judge.

"Both guys are progressing," Boone said.