Gary Sanchez’s reversal of fortunes is nearly complete

BALTIMORE — He needs to be the Yankees savior, not their enigma.

There have been encouraging signs of adjustments recently and that could make all the difference for Gary Sanchez.

He can give so much to this Yankees team if his talents fully blossom.

Consider this from a scout who has been following the Yankees the past week. Tuesday night at Camden Yards the scout said Sanchez’s pop time on his first throw to second base against the Rays was 1.87 seconds.

“That one throw shut down the Rays running game,’’ the scout said.

Anything under 2.0 seconds is tremendous.

When Sanchez was asked about the improvement, he said he has learned from some errant throws earlier this year.

“I’ve really been training hard to improve my throws,’’ Sanchez said through a translator. “In between innings, I’ve tried to be as accurate as I can be with every throw I make and as quick as possible to help my in-game throws so it is more of muscle-memory thing. When I throw, naturally the ball kind of sinks a little bit towards the glove and I remember earlier this year I had an error and it was on a high throw, way high, and the others have been a little too low. So what I’ve been practicing in-between innings is try to make accurate throws right at the target.’’

Adjustments work.

Then there was that three-run, two-out ninth inning home run on Monday night off Mychal Givens, a line drive shot that lifted the Yankees to a 10-7 comeback win over the Orioles.

“I was late on his first fastball, so I shortened my swing,’’ Sanchez said. “A guy like him throws hard and you don’t want to be late.’’
Another winning adjustment.

Perhaps Sanchez is beginning to figure out some things on how to make himself the best ballplayer he can be. That would be gold for Aaron Boone’s squad, who sent new ace Domingo German to the mound Tuesday night.

Wins against the hopeless Orioles are fine, it all matters in the AL East race, but the big games are against the Red Sox and the Rays. And money time is the postseason.

Sanchez collected just three hits in 18 at-bats last postseason. Over his past 68 postseason at-bats, Sanchez is hitting .176.

If Sanchez takes the same mental approach to the plate that he took to the plate in the ninth inning Monday night, there will be more success.

Sanchez leads the Yankees in home runs, more than half of which have come against the Orioles. The Yankees need more of that. Sanchez is so gifted and talented he can do more. He can carry an offense.

That is a heavy burden but that’s the way it is with Aaron Judge on the shelf for such a long time. Judge has started throwing but he remains a long way from playing due to a painful oblique injury that takes time to heal.

Sanchez entered Tuesday night’s game batting .265, a lot better than last season’s .186 disaster in a season derailed by an assortment of injuries. Over his last eight games he has posted a slash line of .313/.371/.563. Sanchez is 26. He should be entering the prime of his career and is so important to this team on so many levels. In addition to leading the team in home runs, he is tops in OPS (.987).

On Saturday, in a 2-1 loss to the Rays, Sanchez had one of those difficult games with four strikeouts. The Yankees are doing the smart thing, not having him catch too many games in a row, perhaps they have learned some lessons as well and that Sanchez can lose his focus when he is tired. A calf strain put him on the IL earlier this year but he has bounced back strongly and that also is why the Yankees are giving him more time off behind the plate.

They know how much they need Gary Sanchez to be productive.

If he can continue to make successful adjustments it will be huge for Sanchez and the Yankees.

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