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Inbox: Sanchez best suited in two-hole?

Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers questions from Yankees fans
MLB.com @BryanHoch

How long is Joe Girardi going to keep batting Gary Sanchez in the two-hole? I think he should be batting third or behind Aaron Judge.
-- Ryan T., Flagler Beach, Fla.

Having Sanchez hitting second seems to be something that Girardi has committed to, allowing for some occasional fluctuations. That should give Sanchez additional plate appearances over the course of a full season, though it will obviously reduce some of his RBI opportunities.

How long is Joe Girardi going to keep batting Gary Sanchez in the two-hole? I think he should be batting third or behind Aaron Judge.
-- Ryan T., Flagler Beach, Fla.

Having Sanchez hitting second seems to be something that Girardi has committed to, allowing for some occasional fluctuations. That should give Sanchez additional plate appearances over the course of a full season, though it will obviously reduce some of his RBI opportunities.

There's a sabermetric school of thought that suggests a team's best hitter is more valuable batting second than third. For what it's worth, Sanchez has said that he is fine with hitting wherever his manager wants. We asked Girardi this weekend what makes Sanchez such an appealing choice for the No. 2 spot:

"There's a bunch of things," Girardi said. "He's an on-base guy, he's a power guy, he's a guy that has the ability to be patient, to get deep into counts. He's going to hit his doubles, he's going to hit his home runs. [Brett Gardner] is going to score on those.

"I think he's a really good hitter, too. I think he's going to hit for average. I think all of us have probably thought that he's not swung the bat as well as he's capable, but his numbers are pretty good. He's on base, what, about [35] percent of the time? That's pretty good for a guy that really hasn't taken off yet."

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How long do you think Chris Carter will last with the Yankees? Do you think Tyler Austin will eventually take his place when he's healthy?
-- Andy D., Fort Worth, Texas

It's possible. The club will huddle during Monday's off-day to discuss both Austin and Greg Bird, who is rehabbing at Class A Advanced Tampa. The Yankees have talked about wanting to give Austin about 55 to 60 at-bats in the Minors because he missed all of Spring Training; through Sunday, he's tallied 44 and hit quite well (.341/.396/.545).

Though Girardi has pointed to Carter's 14 RBIs in 111 at-bats as "not terrible," it's obvious that his low batting average (.180) and strikeouts (48) are not sustainable long term, even for a player who brings that as part of his usual landscape. The Yanks have gotten the worst production in the Majors at first base (that's not an exaggeration, their .563 OPS ranks dead last), so adding a healthy Austin and/or Bird could only help.

What is the plan for Gleyber Torres? Didi Gregorius is still relatively young, so will someone move to another position? If so, who?
-- Francisco S., Mazatlan, Mexico

The easy answer is to say that Torres may slide in to replace Chase Headley at third base, and it's something they could consider later in the season, especially if Headley's offensive slump continues. Torres is on a 3-3-2 rotation at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre between third base, shortstop and second base, so the Yankees are keeping their options open. It very well may be that an injury opens the door for his promotion.

There seems to be a question of maturity with Clint Frazier and Jorge Mateo. Considering the abundance of outfielders and middle infielders, are those two prospects a little less untouchable?
-- Tim G., New York

General manager Brian Cashman has always maintained a stance that no player is off limits -- at least as far as trade requests go -- but some are a little more attainable than others. In the case of the two players you mentioned, it could really go either way -- they could help the Yankees at the Major League level in the near future, or be used as chips to acquire a player that will.

As far as the maturity question goes, let's try to remember that these are still just kids. I'm reminded of what Reggie Jackson said after the silly hubbub about Frazier's hair: "I think he's doing great. It takes time for us to change sometimes. And I don't know if I can remember back how I thought when I was 22, but I sure as hell was a wild antelope in the woods."

What happened to the "oven mitt" that Brett Gardner used to wear when he ran the bases?
-- Paul S., Albany, N.Y.

Great question. I asked Gardner and he said that the fiberglass device was to protect his left thumb, and since it isn't really bothering him anymore, he has done away with it. But here's the interesting part: Gardner said that the Baseball Hall of Fame asked for the guard that he helped design, as it represented an innovation in the game. So to answer your question in the literal sense, that "oven mitt" was sent to Cooperstown.

If Bird cannot make it back to his potential, is there a chance Judge could move to first to open up an outfield spot for one of the Yankees' many young prospects?
-- Andy B., Tampa, Fla.

First off, everything we saw in the spring with Bird suggests that he'll be fine, but I wouldn't change anything in Judge's game right now. Sure, his size would make for a great target at first base, but he's more than a capable right fielder. You can see it in the routes that Judge takes to balls, the jumps that he gets and the throws that he makes.

As promising as Dustin Fowler and Frazier may be, Cashman has said that he doesn't have anyone at Triple-A who would start over Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Judge or Jacoby Ellsbury (when healthy). Their time will most likely come; there are scouts who believe that Fowler in particular could help the Major League lineup right now.

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

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