Yanks expect Sanchez to be sidelined 3-4 weeks

June 24th, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- The Yankees are preparing to be without their starting catcher for approximately three to four weeks, though after seeing Gary Sanchez hobble off the diamond Sunday, manager Aaron Boone termed that to be "pretty good news."

Sanchez was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of his right groin, the least severe of the three possible grades, and was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Monday's game against the Phillies. In a corresponding move, catcher Kyle Higashioka was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"Gary Sanchez out of your lineup, that's a big deal," Boone said. "But we'll take the positive out of it. Ro has done a great job obviously this year for us. It's an opportunity for Higashioka to get up here and hopefully everyone can pick up the slack a little bit in his absence, but we feel like we offensively speaking will be OK."

Sanchez, 25, was injured in the ninth inning of Sunday's 7-6, 12-inning loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field. Sanchez grounded into a double play and winced after crossing first base, reaching for his groin.

Listen: Morning Lineup Podcast discusses Sanchez's injury

Though Sanchez remained in consideration for a second straight season as an American League All-Star, his numbers have paled in comparison to last year. Sanchez is batting .190/.291/.433 in 63 games, but leads all American League catchers in runs (36) and doubles (14) and is second in homers (14), RBIs (41) and walks (31).

"Hopefully this time on the disabled list is useful in a sense that when we get the groin right, maybe it's a time that we make sure he's staying proactive with the conditioning, so that when he does come back, he's in the best possible place so that he can be physically sound the rest of the way," Boone said. "That's something that we'll attack aggressively in these next two, three, four weeks while he's down, hopefully putting him in a good place."

Depth charges

Sensing a need to bolster their pitching after Sunday's extra-inning affair, the Yankees also recalled right-hander Giovanny Gallegos from Triple-A, optioning outfielder Clint Frazier to the Minors.

The addition of Gallegos gave New York 14 pitchers for Monday's contest, which Boone said was a result of Sunday's extra-inning game against Tampa Bay. Gallegos is enjoying his third stint with the Yankees this season and provides coverage for a taxed bullpen.

"Frankly, it was a difficult decision," Boone said. "Having to send Frazier out, who we really like as a pinch-hit option in the National League park, was a very difficult decision, but one we felt that we needed to make to cover us for at least [Monday] and [Tuesday]."

Boone added that if Luis Cessa is needed to pitch Monday or Tuesday, CC Sabathia could slide into his spot and start Wednesday at Philadelphia.

Backup backstop

Boone said he anticipates Austin Romine will get the bulk of playing time behind home plate, and Higashioka said he is looking forward to the challenge of serving as a big league backup.

"A lot of it is repetition," Higashioka said. "I try to catch as many bullpens as I can, just so I can get used to how the pitches move and where they like to throw and all that stuff. There's a few guys I haven't caught so much, so I'll definitely have to go and make sure that I see their ball movement or catch their bullpens as much as I can."

In 51 games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Higashioka was batting .191 (35-for-183) with 14 runs, eight doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs.

"I started pretty hot at the plate," Higashioka said. "Obviously it's cooled off a lot since then. Right now, that's not really what I'm thinking about. The last few games, I've been really locked in at the plate. I've been catching well. It's a good time right now."

This date in Yankees history

June 25, 1934: Lou Gehrig became the fourth Yankee to hit for the cycle, doing so in a 13-2 victory over the White Sox. Gehrig did so "accidentally" -- he was thrown out at home plate in the seventh inning trying for an inside-the-park homer and was thus credited with a triple.