Rocco Baldelli, manager of the Minnesota Twins, had nothing but praise for former Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez and third baseman Gio Urshela prior to Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela were traded to the Twins by the Yankees in March for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and catcher Ben Rortvedt.
“It feels good [to be back],” Urshela said after going 0-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base. The last three years [in New York] were filled with many unforgettable experiences for me. It will be fun to compete against some of my former teammates.
To make his presence felt, Sánchez hit a monster two-run home ball in the fifth inning that tied the first game of this four-game series at 2. According to Statcast, the clout will go 473 feet into the left field bleachers, making it the fourth longest home run of the year.
Baldelli stated this about Sánchez: “I came in with an open mind, and he’s done nothing but work.” The way he’s been able to mold our pitchers into effective players has been nothing short of remarkable. It seems to me that he has put in a lot of effort to learn the ropes of becoming a quality catcher in the Major Leagues. That’s something you pick up after some time has passed.
But on that side of the ball, he has done a really excellent job for us by learning the subtleties of the new organization, what we want from our men in terms of game-calling and dealing with our catchers, and whatever else we want of him.
Sánchez has attributed his development as a catcher to his consistent sessions with catching coach Hank Conger. Throughout the season, “he helps me every day to make adjustments and get better,” Sánchez remarked of his teammate.
One inning after Sánchez’s spectacular bomb, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge hit his 54th home run of the season, tying the franchise record for most home runs in a single season by a right-handed batter, and putting him on pace for an AL record 65.
The Yankees played a tribute video for Gary and Gio pic.twitter.com/xqXM1pUv4x
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) September 5, 2022
Sánchez, a colleague of Judge’s for the past six years, is blown away by the superstar’s performance. Judge is now first in the Majors in home runs, RBIs, OPS, and OPS+.
As of right now, he is enjoying a fantastic year. I’m thrilled for him,” Sánchez exclaimed. “He’s a fantastic baseball player. I was a witness to his 52 home runs in 2017. This instant, he has 54. What he is doing defies belief.
On the other hand, Urshela reflected that his three trips to the postseason with the Yankees were among his most memorable experiences with the team. It’s very dissimilar. There is a lively spirit. What he meant was that he had fond memories of the time.
He’s been nearly perfect at third base, committing only five errors in 110 games. Urshela has also shown his ability to perform under pressure at the plate, as he is 19-for-54 (.352) in late-game scenarios.
“He has been so reliable and fruitful. To paraphrase Baldelli, “I don’t know where we would be without him in a lot of ways.” This year, he has produced numerous noteworthy contributions that showcase his extensive knowledge and perceptiveness. He sets himself up for success on the field.”
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders was the team the Yankees sent him to. With the help of RailRiders hitting coach Phil Plantier, he adjusted his stance at the plate. It was Urshela who came up to bat. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre infielder hit.307 in 107 at-bats.
On April 6, 2019, after Miguel Andujar, the Yankees’ starting third baseman, suffered a torn right shoulder labrum, the team made the decision to choose Urshela’s contract. Since the beginning of the season, Urshela has batted 25-for-71 (.352) and has been a key member of the Yankees lineup despite Andjar’s brief return in May and subsequent decision to have season-ending surgery.
The Yankees started the 2020 season with Urshela at third base. A groin ailment in late August limited his participation to 43 of the team’s 60 games. He led all third basemen with a fielding percentage of.992 and hit.298/.368/.490 with 6 homers and 30 RBIs.
Against his former team, the Cleveland Indians, Urshela hit the first postseason grand slam by a Yankee’s third baseman on September 30 in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series. This factored into the Yankees’ ability to win the Wild Card Series over the Indians in three games. Next, the Yankees were swept by the Tampa Bay Rays in five games in the Division Series.
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