Yolmer Sanchez thriving in full-time role with White Sox
TORONTO — In this year of the rebuild, the arrow is pointing up for a handful of White Sox position players staking a claim in the team’s future.
Avisail Garcia, Leury Garcia, Matt Davidson and Yolmer Sanchez come immediately to mind to varying degrees. Avisail Garcia is breaking out with an All-Star-caliber season, Davidson is leading the team with 15 home runs despite not playing every day until recently and advanced metrics say Leury Garcia is the Sox’ most valuable player behind Avisail.
Sanchez, meanwhile, is in the top five with a .283 average, three homers, 18 RBI and stout defense at second base. With Yoan Moncada penciled in as the second baseman of the future, Sanchez figures to get bumped off his spot, but he can play shortstop and third base, too, which sets him up, if he continues to play at the level he has shown in the Sox’ first 68 games, as a valuable switch-hitting utility infielder.
Sanchez’s production has been every-day-worthy, though. He drove in the Sox’ first run in their 7-3 loss Sunday to the Blue Jays with a single to center in the fifth inning, made two plays behind second base and made one ranging to the shortstop side to beat Kevin Pillar and a replay challenge.
“I’m just glad everybody is getting to see what he’s capable of doing,’’ bench coach Joe McEwing said.
McEwing rates Sanchez as above-average defensively.
“He’s a kid who is very talented with great hands, has a lot of range, and, given the opportunity to prove what he can do on a daily basis, you’re seeing what we’ve known for some time. It’s nice to see everybody recognize how talented he is.’’
Sanchez has been stout turning the double play, thanks to quick hands, footwork and no fear of contact at second base.
“Oh, no, I like it when he gets close,’’ he said. “I feel like it makes me quicker.
“I love playing defense, making plays, turning double plays. You get better with more experience. And playing every day just gives me more experience.’’
Sanchez’s RBI single, followed two outs later by Jose Abreu’s two-run single against left-hander J.A. Happ (2-4), gave the Sox (31-37) and James Shields a 3-0 lead. But the Jays got one in the fifth and three in the sixth on a tying homer by Russell Martin that ended Shields’ outing and a triple by Ryan Goins against Anthony Swarzak (3-2).
The Jays (33-35), avoiding a three-game sweep, put it away against three Sox relievers in the seventh, the big blow a 460-foot homer by Kendrys Morales, his 15th, against left-hander Dan Jennings.
Sanchez is fundamentally sound, but he doesn’t complicate things in his mind.
“The key to turning the double play is, don’t think too much and be on time,’’ he said. “If you’re on time, that’s the best thing. If you’re late, your hands are going to be late and your feet are going to be late. Get on time to the base, and the rest comes easy.’’
It does seem to come easy. At least it looks that way.
“It’s God-given with him,’’ said McEwing, who works with the Sox’ infielders. “You can work and work and work and get better, and he does that with every aspect of his game, but I believe it’s God-given. He has special hands and feet, but instinctively he’s off the charts.’’
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