Despite their renowned minor league depth, the Yankees always had a weakness in their system behind the plate. That issue was exacerbated Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay after catcher Gary Sánchez hurt his groin running out a double play ground ball in the 10th inning.
“It’s bothering me right now,” Sánchez said through a translator. “What can I say, that’s how baseball is sometimes. You never want something bad to happen to you, but that’s part of baseball. Now I’m hoping it’s not a long time.”
Despite struggling to a .190/.291/.433 line in 63 games this season, the Yankees have stuck with Sánchez as their starter. He has managed just seven hits in the month of June, while striking out in 25 percent of his plate appearances. Backup Austin Romine, who has undergone a surprising offensive outbreak, replaced Sánchez on defense and will get the bulk of the starts with Gary on the shelf.
Romine has posted a surprising .305/.370/.524 line so far in 2018, which has been slowed lately by a .207/.250/.379 line in 32 plate appearances so far in June. The 29-year-old has earned more playing time because of his bat as well as his status as Sonny Gray‘s personal catcher. The extra offense from Romine allows Aaron Boone to use Sánchez more in a designated hitter role, which allows the 25-year-old to maintain a degree of freshness.
Sánchez’s 25-man roster spot will be taken by Kyle Higashioka. Drafted by the Yankees in the 7th round of the 2008 draft, Higashioka has battled injuries and inconsistent offensive performance as part of the Yankees flimsy catching depth. He is just a season removed from hitting 21 home runs in 2016, which was a career-high.