Gary Sanchez opens up on postseason silent treatment from Yankees
After the worst season of his career, Gary Sanchez said he wants to be the Yankees’ starting catcher and that he wasn’t given an explanation by the team for why he was benched during the playoffs.
In an interview on ESPN conducted in Spanish and published Monday, Sanchez said while he was told why he wasn’t behind the plate at times during the shortened regular season, that was not the case in the playoffs. Sanchez started just twice in seven postseason games, and Kyle Higashioka became the starter.
“Feeling like I couldn’t contribute was very hard,’’ Sanchez told ESPN. “I always kept supporting my team. But the reality is, they never told me why I was benched. I didn’t know why I wasn’t playing.”
Aaron Boone declined to comment on the subject when contacted by The Post.
Sanchez, though, hit just .147 with 64 strikeouts in just 178 plate appearances during the regular season. He hit better over his final 11 games, going 8-for-38 with five extra-base hits.
The catcher said prior to the playoffs, when he didn’t play, he was told he’d get two or three days off to “get myself back together again.”
Over the last month of the regular season, Higashioka became Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher, so Sanchez didn’t catch the games Cole started in the playoffs.
He caught Game 2 against Cleveland and homered, but only started one more game the rest of the way, when he struck out three times in a Game 2 ALDS loss to the Rays in the bubble in San Diego.
“I struck out three times, but I felt like I was taking good cuts, good swings,’’ Sanchez said. “I felt so much better, but I didn’t play. And I said to myself, ‘What’s happened here?’ But my job is to support my team. But from then on, nobody told me anything.”
Sanchez said he requested to talk to Boone after the season and the two had a “respectful and very positive conversation” and “cleared things up. After talking to Boone, everything is fine.”
Sanchez has been playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic to make up for lost at-bats during the 2020 season and general manager Brian Cashman said this month Sanchez was “the heir apparent” at starting catcher heading into spring training and the team tendered Sanchez a contract which is due to pay him more than $5 million.
But the GM this offseason has also called it a “fair question” to wonder what Sanchez’s role will be next season after playing so poorly last year.
“I cannot speak for the team, but I’m ready to be an everyday catcher,’’ Sanchez said. “Right now, I’m  and I don’t see myself as a catcher one day a week, two days a week. I don’t see my career going that way yet.”
Last week, Cole told the YES Network he expected to work with both Sanchez and Higashioka next spring. But Higashioka caught Cole’s last four regular-season starts and all of his postseason outings, with significantly better results than when he pitched to Sanchez.
Sanchez also said it’s difficult hearing it from the fans — including the narrative that he’s a lazy player — but it comes with the territory after a season like he had.
“And now I have to listen to all the negative comments, everything that everyone has to say about me, because the truth is that I played badly at the plate,’’ Sanchez said. “That is why I have to take everything anyone says. Let them say what they want; I deserve it. That will make me better and stronger.”
Reggie Jackson backed Sanchez writing on Twitter in Spanish: “Gary Sanchez, the job is yours. You just have to claim it. You were the best hitter on the team at one point. Work hard and show it. I’ve believed in you since you were 16 years old.”
Gleyber Torres — who, like Sanchez, had a miserable 2020 — is set to play winter ball, as well. He’ll DH for Leones del Caracas in his native Venezuela, the team announced Monday.
Torres and Sanchez have both spent part of the offseason working with hitting coach Marcus Thames in Tampa.