Ladies and gentlemen, we have a late entry for Comeback Player of the Year.
Gary Sanchez — kicked to the curb by the Yankees and Mets, Twins and Giants — hit his fifth home run in 10 games with the San Diego Padres in a 9-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
Welcome back, 2017.
“A lot of times, you get a little confidence again and you do some things you’ve done in the past,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said after the win. “He’s still a young man for what he does. Each and every game he has like this, you’ll see some of the potential he’s always had.”
And if the offensive resurgence isn’t crazy enough, get a load of this: The Padres are raving about Sanchez’s defense, too.
On Friday, Sanchez made his second start behind the plate with Yu Darvish on the mound. Going back to the start of last season, Austin Nola had been Darvish’s personal catcher. Darvish — who has eight pitches — posted seven shutout innings on Sunday in his first pairing with Sanchez, and while he was slapped around for four runs in 5.1 innings on Friday, still was the winner.
Sanchez, you’ll recall, twice led the American League in passed balls while with the Yankees and was so bad at blocking pitches that he had to crouch with one knee on the ground.
“I think some of the balls maybe in the dirt, in the past he’s sold out to framing,” Padres manager Bob Melvin told the San Diego Union Tribune. ” … I think that’s where he’s gotten some of his criticism, but I think he’s found a nice balance to where he gets in a position to where he can block a ball in front of him. He’s done that … and his framing numbers and throwing arm has always been there.”
Melvin, who was a catcher himself in a 10-year career, added: “In a place like New York, you can get some criticism pretty quickly. But I like his skills behind the plate right now.”
Suddenly, Sanchez is the Padres’ No. 1 catcher.
“Just continuing to work on it, you know, both the offensive side of the ball, but also the defensive side of the ball,” Sanchez said through a team interpreter. “Thankfully, the results have shown, but really it’s all about continuing to work.”
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