Joe Girardi said Brian McCann will go back to taking ground balls at first base now that Gary Sanchez is set to get more playing time behind the plate.
“I’m not worried about next year, but I have told Brian he should take some grounders at first, just to give us options as we move forward here,” Girardi said. “He’s done it before, and he’s pretty comfortable over there.”
The manager wouldn’t rule out the possibility of McCann being asked to intensify his practice there in the offseason.
“That’s probably a discussion to have over the winter,” Girardi said. “It’s not something we’ve talked about. I’m focused on this year. Next year is a long ways away, and we’re a long ways away from spring training and Opening Day. I’m not really worried about it.”
McCann said, “It won’t be that big a transition.”
Sanchez caught CC Sabathia on Saturday and impressed the lefty.
“He did a great job communicating,” Sabathia said. “It’s just [about] being confident and knowing what he wants to do with hitters.”
“Like we said, he’s here to play,’’ Girardi said. “So he’s gonna play. The other guys are gonna play, as well.”
Sanchez also threw out a runner trying to steal second despite the ball rolling away from him, and knocked in the Yankees’ first run with a double. A crossup with Nick Goody in the ninth led to a passed ball.
“We’ve always heard how well he throws,” said Girardi, who was pleased to see Sanchez, who struggled in spring training with a chance to win the backup job, have quick success this time around.
“He’s been one of our prospects that’s been highly touted, and I think sometimes you can put a lot of pressure on yourself when you’re a young player because you want to prove you belong and you can play at this level and put too much pressure on yourself,” Girardi said. “And I think he did that in spring training. I think he wanted it so bad.”
Now that he’s back, Sanchez is being asked to call games the same way McCann and Austin Romine have done.
“We give him a plan, obviously,” Girardi said. “We’re treating him just like any other catcher. He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing.”
Despite being down by three runs, Girardi used Dellin Betances to get the final two outs in the top of the ninth inning, since he hadn’t worked since Monday.
“I’m not gonna change my theories on how I use him,” Girardi said. “If I need him for multiple innings, I’m going to do it.”
Chasen Shreve pitched a scoreless 1 ¹/₃ innings in his return from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Johnny Barbato was sent back to SWB.
“Shreve went to work on his slider against left-handers, and he did that,” Girardi said.
Brett Gardner made a baserunning gaffe in the sixth, breaking from first base on Jacoby Ellsbury’s fly to right with no one out. He was doubled off first by right fielder Abraham Almonte.
“I was almost positive it would fall, and obviously it was a bad read by me,” Gardner said. “It’s one of those things where I got a little bit greedy and paid the price for it.”
Mark Teixeira was in the lineup again, a day after announcing he would retire at the end of the season.
Despite that news, Girardi said he’s not going to use the first baseman any differently.
“Not really,” the manager said. “If he’s out there, I don’t want him hobbled. I’m not gonna beat him up.”
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