Gary Sanchez doesn’t enjoy baseball right now: Pudge Rodriguez

The Yankees are counting on Gary Sanchez bouncing back at the plate after his awful 2020 season.

It’s why they didn’t designate him for assignment this offseason and even gave him a larger-than-expected raise to $6.35 million.

And while the beleaguered catcher has worked on his swing with Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames and played winter ball in the Dominican Republic to improve his approach at the plate, he’s got a different issue, as well, according to Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

“He doesn’t enjoy baseball right now,” Rodriguez told WFAN. “He feels like…he comes to the ballpark and it’s a depressing thing for him right now.  That’s what I see when he’s playing.”

It would be hard not to be depressed during a season in which Sanchez slashed just .147/.253/.365 in 49 games and struggled defensively, as well.

The Yankees catcher said in a recent interview with ESPN that he was upset with how his benching during the playoffs was handled, when Sanchez said he wasn’t told why he was replaced by Kyle Higashioka. Sanchez added he’d since spoken with manager Aaron Boone and the matter is settled.

Gary Sanchez; Ivan Rodriguez
Gary Sanchez; Ivan Rodriguez
Robert Sabo; Evan Barnes

Thames told The Post last month Sanchez was “confident as heck” during their offseason workouts in Tampa, as well as when he played in winter ball.

The true test, though, will come during spring training and into the regular season, following an offseason in which his future with the organization seemed in doubt.

“I think he has too much pressure on himself,’’ Rodriguez said. “He’s trying to do too much. I’ve talked to him a few times and he’s very positive. But Gary plays in an organization and in a city where obviously, you have to do a good job pretty much every night.”

Rodriguez, who is set to be honored at the Thurman Munson Awards on Feb. 2, played with the Yankees for part of the 2008 season following a trade from the Tigers. He is remains confident Sanchez can regain his form — if he adjusts his mindset.

“That’s the part of the game that he needs to work the most,” Rodriguez said. “The pressure part of the game he needs to work on. He needs to breathe, he needs to relax himself. He needs to believe that he’s a great player. Now because [the mental] part of his game is not there he feels like everything else he doesn’t have.”

Rodriguez thinks the problem is that Sanchez is “too tight.”

“When you’re tight everything moves fast, but when you’re relaxed, everything will slow down,” Rodriguez said. “When your mind is already anticipating what’s going to happen everything slows down. Right now, he doesn’t know, so everything moves like lightning.”

The Yankees signed 25-year-old right-hander Stephen Ridings to a minor-league deal. The 6-foot-8 Ridings was an eighth-round pick by the Cubs in 2016 and spent the 2019 season in Rookie ball with the Royals.


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