Monday, March 1, 2021

On Day Many Yankees' New Faces Debut, They Get Statement From A Familiar One

Gary Sanchez connecting on a mammoth home run on Monday afternoon. Provided by New York Yankees.

The second spring training game for the Yankees was one which marked the debut of new faces like pitchers Jameson Taillon and Jhoulys Chacin, and outfielder Jay Bruce, but was marked by a big day from a very familiar one, catcher Gary Sanchez, entering his sixth season in pinstripes.

Sanchez has been a major focus this spring training, as he had a tough 2020 season, in which he shared catching responsibilities with Kyle Higashioka throughout the season and he had the toughest season of his career at the plate.

Gerrit Cole. Provided by New York Yankees.

Gerrit Cole got the start for the Yankees, so the fact that Sanchez was back there was notable after Higashioka was his personal catcher for most of last season.

Cole pitched one inning, allowing a run on three hits with a walk and strikeout before Taillon came in to pitch a perfect second inning, in which he notched a strikeout. Taillon, who was Cole's teammate in Pittsburgh, was acquired form the Pirates in January. 

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone (left) chats with Jameson Taillon. Provided by New York Yankees.

Jameson Taillon on the hill. Provided by New York Yankees.

Chacin, whom the Yankees signed as a free agent, who has pitched for seven teams including the Atlanta Braves last season, came in for the third inning and allowed a two-run homer to Tigers (and former Met) catcher Wilson Ramos that gave Detroit a 3-0 lead.

Sanchez came up in the bottom of third against Tigers left-hander Gregory Soto, and he tore into a 99-MPH sinker and launched it to center field, over the batter's-eye screen, quite a statement that he expects this season to be a return to form for one of the most powerful hitters in baseball.

Gary Sanchez squaring one up. Provided by New York Yankees.

Sanchez being congratulated by his teammates in the dugout after the homer. Provided by New York Yankees.

The Yankees then got another big blast in the fifth inning when Chris Gittens hit a grand slam to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead, which would be the final of the seven-inning game.

Jay Bruce, the veteran outfielder whom the Yankees signed after he spent the past couple seasons with Philadelphia, went 1-for-2 in his spring debut. The Yankees had tried to acquire Bruce in 2017 while he was playing for the Mets, but the deal fell through and he ended up being traded to Cleveland instead.

Chris Gittens being greeted at the plate after his grand slam. Provided by New York Yankees.

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