Sanchez celebrates POW honor with 2 homers

August 22nd, 2016

SEATTLE -- The day Yankees rookie catcher was named American League Player of the Week, he went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs.

"It's been unbelievable what he's done," manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees' 7-5 loss Monday. "The way he's swung the bat, the way he's played defense."

His efforts weren't enough to lift his team above the Mariners, but his performance was momentous. His second home run was his eighth in just 17 games this season and 19 career games, the most homers any Yankees player has hit in his first 19 Major League games.

But not only were his homers notable. Sanchez's second hit of the night, a single in the fourth inning, left his bat at 113.1 mph, according to Statcast™. With that exit velocity, his hit was the second-hardest-hit ball by any Yankees player this season.

In the field, he threw out a runner trying to steal for the fifth time this season. In 11 games behind the dish, only two runners have stolen on him.

"It feels really good when he's behind the plate," Monday's starter, , said. "He's doing great. I'm happy for him."

Sanchez received the American League Player of the Week Award on Monday after hitting .524 with two doubles, four home runs and six RBIs in six games last week.

"It means a lot to me, especially now at the beginning of my career here," Sanchez said through interpreter Marlon Abreu. "And I'm just hoping for better things to come."

The 23-year-old became the first Yankees player to win the accolade this season, and he did so less than three weeks after New York recalled him from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

He's been red-hot since his return to the big leagues Aug. 3, batting .410 with eight home runs and 15 RBIs in 16 games.

Girardi likes him in the three-hole.

"I want him to get at-bats because he's been so productive," Girardi said. "Do I think he could be a three hitter? Yes I do. Do I think he could be a four hitter? I think he could do that too. I just love what he's doing with the bat, and it divides up our lefties."

Sanchez started behind the plate for the fourth consecutive day Monday, which has become commonplace for the young catcher. Earlier this month, he caught five days in a row, from Aug. 13-17.

"I think it's important that he catches day games after night games because I think he's capable of doing it," Girardi said. "I think it's important that he plays days in a row because he's capable of doing that was well. And he gets to go through the rotation in a sense. I think that's important, too."

Sanchez will get the day off either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Aug. 3 was the second time New York recalled Sanchez from Triple-A this season. He played a complete game May 13 before being optioned back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez also competed for the backup catcher spot in Spring Training.

"When I was in Spring Training, I had a chance to meet a lot of the guys that are here and develop relationships with them," Sanchez said. "Definitely that's an advantage for me because it helps me relax."