Aaron Boone already working on relationship with Gary Sanchez
One of Aaron Boone’s first priorities once he was told he got the job as Yankees manager was to contact some of his new players.
“I’ve reached out to a lot already,’’ Boone said at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. “I’ve texted with a lot of them. I’ve spoken with a handful. Obviously, I know some guys pretty well.”
Perhaps the most important player on that list is Gary Sanchez, who spent his first full season in the majors continuing to put up historic offensive numbers, but also continuing to frustrate Joe Girardi, the man Boone is replacing in the dugout.
Asked if he felt he needed to establish a good relationship with Sanchez quickly, Boone said he did.
“I have a priority in that Gary and my relationship is important,” Boone said. “I expect it to be very strong. My expectation is that he’s going to be one of the great impact players on both sides of the ball for a long time to come. I’ve already texted back and forth with him a little bit and I expect to meet up with him at some point in the next couple of weeks.”
No doubt Girardi, a former catcher, had the same hopes, but Sanchez’s defensive lapses bothered the Yankees’ former manager to such an extent that he criticized Sanchez publicly — something Girardi rarely did — and even benched him for two games.
The 25-year-old committed 16 passed balls in the regular season — as many as anyone in baseball — and allowed 53 wild pitches to get by him, a number surpassed only by Jonathan Lucroy. Though Sanchez’s attention to detail appeared to improve slightly down the stretch, it remains an issue.
“We forget how young he is and how great he’s been so far,’’ Boone said. “How massively successful he has been at one of the most demanding positions in all of sports. We’re going to continue to support him and continue to build our relationship so that we can grow him in every facet. That’s our job.”
Boone’s ability to connect with players throughout his playing and TV career is among the main reasons he’ll be in the dugout next season. Trying to get Sanchez to reach his potential won’t be the only goal the new manager has entering 2018.
“I’m going to really care about these guys,” Boone said. “Hopefully I’m going to love these guys and they’re going to love me back. But when you have to make difficult decisions, you have to be honest in your evaluation. … The impact of that decision doesn’t mean you lose a person.’’
Whether it’s Sanchez or other relatively new stars, Boone’s task is to get them to improve on what they did a year ago.
“It’s young guys that, in many cases, haven’t reached the prime of their career,’’ Boone said. “How do we avoid complacency? How do we get these guys to be an even better version of themselves?”