NEW YORK (AP) Rookie Gary Sanchez was brought up by the New York Yankees to be their designated hitter this weekend against Chicago White Sox left-handers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
A 23-year-old viewed by some as New York's starting catcher of the future, Sanchez was batting sixth against Sale in Friday night's series opener.
''He's a good pitcher, but at the same time, I don't really have to focus on that,'' Sanchez said through a translator. ''I've got to focus on my approach and the way I've been hitting.''
With a lefty on the mound, the Yankees started Austin Romine behind the plate instead of left-handed-hitting Brian McCann and dropped Brett Gardner to seventh in the batting order.
Quintana, a former teammate of Sanchez's in the Yankees' minor league system, is scheduled to start Saturday.
Sanchez was promoted by the Yankees for the first time Sept. 12 and remained with them for the rest of the season, including the wild-card playoff loss to Houston. He got just two at-bats, popping out and striking out against Baltimore on the last two days of the regular season. He was considered the favorite to win the backup catcher's job this year, but hit .091 (2 for 22) in spring training and lost out to Romine.
''Probably a guy trying to do too much and trying too hard in spring training,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Sanchez is hitting .288 with 11 doubles, five homers and 21 RBIs in 27 games this season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He has needed to improve his defense.
''We're pretty pleased with where he is at defensively,'' said Girardi, a former catcher. ''We've see a lot of growth in him.''
New York opened a roster spot by optioning left-hander Tyler Olson to the RailRiders.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the starting lineup for the seventh straight game since injuring a right hip muscle. Girardi hopes he will play before the end of the homestand on Sunday.
Left-hander CC Sabathia, on the disabled list since last week because of a strained left groin, was to throw a bullpen session Friday. He hopes to be activated as soon as he is eligible on May 20.