Catcher Hopes To Be In Rehab Games Soon; Return To Bombers Could Happen By Late August Or Early September

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees are being extra cautious with Gary Sanchez.

The catcher, himself, updated reporters on Tuesday, saying there is at least a chance he could return from his strained groin by the end of August.

“As of right now I don’t feel anything,” Sanchez said of the injury, which has kept him out since July 24. “I haven’t been running on the field 100 percent yet, but right now I don’t feel it.

“I think the real test is going to come when I play in games,” he added. “When I hit a ground ball and I am pushing myself, that is going to be the real test.”

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Sanchez has been rehabbing with the Yankees, but could return to Florida for some minor league action by the end of next week, manager Aaron Boone said.

“He’ll probably head back to Tampa this weekend, with us having the off day before (the) Miami (series),” Boone said. “If all goes well, hopefully next week in Tampa could potentially start a rehab situation in the Gulf Coast league there…. All signs looking well, he’s responding well. Just looking to get through this week having ramped him up, then we can start talking about when to work him into games.”

Despite missing Sanchez and superstar Aaron Judge due to injuries, the Yankees have won seven of their last nine games. Though they currently sit 10 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East, they do own the top spot in the wild card race, leading Oakland by 3 1/2 and Seattle by seven, so their chances of making the postseason remain strong. The last thing they want to do is bring Sanchez back before he’s ready, just to have him hurt himself again. Sanchez has been bothered by the balky groin for much of the season, even spending time on the disabled list earlier in the summer, only to return and re-injure himself on July 23 against the Rays in Florida.

MORESeverino’s Struggles Suddenly A Major Concern For Yankees

This season has been a struggle for Sanchez on many levels. He has appeared in just 66 games due to injuries and is batting just .188. Though he does have 14 home runs and 42 RBIs, he seems like a shell of the player that batted .278 with 33 homers and 90 RBIs in 2017.

“We’re going to be very conscientious how we build Gary back up and making sure we build him back up and challenge him in a lot of different ways, making sure everything is OK with his conditioning, his health and probably having a little more extended rehab period, so we can really have him bounce back catching-wise,” Boone said. “We’ll make sure he is running in the game and doing it a number of times and just being conscientious because it has been a recurring situation this year.”

Backup catcher Austin Romine has done a good job filling in for Sanchez. Though not nearly the power hitter that Sanchez is, Romine is having a career season at the plate, hitting .269 with eight homers and 35 RBIs, and he has been very solid defensively.