The apparently frosty relationship between the Yankees and star catcher Gary Sanchez may have taken another turn.
The slugger opened up about his trying 2020 season in a recent interview -- and seemed to suggest he didn't appreciate how the Yankees handled his head-turning benching in the postseason.
Sanchez, who also saw a dip in playing time in the regular season due to underperformance, told ESPN that the playoff benching was never explained to him.
The Yankees had previously framed the relative demotion for their former everyday catcher as an opportunity to rest and work on his well-documented defensive shortcomings, he said -- but they declined to address it all once the postseason rolled around.
"When they benched me during the regular season," Sanchez told the outlet, "it was explained to me that I would catch one day and have a day off or catch two days and then have a day off to rest, work on things.
"Then the playoffs came along, and you start getting excited and you have all that adrenaline. I already felt I was in better form and I had so much desire to contribute to the team, to finally do something, which I did not do in the regular season. Feeling like I couldn't contribute was very hard. 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."
Sanchez struggled at the plate in the virus-shortened campaign, to the tune of a ghastly .147/.253/.365 batting line. The Yankees apparently decided they couldn't tolerate his defensive struggles -- passed balls and pitch framing are a particular issue -- when he wasn't delivering with the stick.
The two-time All-Star is among the game's top sluggers at his position when he's on, but consistency has been an issue. The hulking 27-year-old backstop has underperformed in two of the past three seasons -- sandwiched around an All-Star nod in 2019.
Sanchez said he had a productive conversation with manager Aaron Boone after the season.
"I asked for and had a respectful and very positive conversation with Boone. I explained to him that I thought I deserved an explanation for what happened. We had a good conversation, and we talked about all of that and cleared things up. After talking to Boone, everything is fine. Our communication has been very good and very honest since all of this happened. ... But really, we have always had good communication. That's why I was confused when we weren't in communication in the playoffs."
The 2016 Rookie of the Year runner-up also said it was never explained to him that he would no longer catch Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, and was left to piece it together after a couple consecutive turns on the bench for Cole's starts.
He said he still wants to catch Cole along with the rest of the Yankees' starters as the team's everyday backstop.