Yankees' Gary Sánchez Has Fever, Return Date From Back Soreness Delayed

Max Goodman

Amid growing concerns regarding the coronavirus, Yankees' star catcher Gary Sánchez was diagnosed with a fever. Skipper Aaron Boone confirmed the backstop tested positive for the flu on Tuesday.

Sánchez has been sidelined for several days with soreness in his back, discomfort he began to experience after catching in back-to-back Grapefruit League games at the end of last week.  

The Yankees' manager revealed that Sánchez was not tested for coronavirus. 

Tuesday morning, prior to the Yankees' afternoon matchup with the Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Sánchez was listed to take on-field batting practice – a major step toward his return to game action. 

Hours later, after Sánchez did not appear on the field with his teammates, it was revealed the backstop's return to baseball activity was not only pushed back, but the catcher wasn't even in attendance at the Yankees' facility due to his illness. 

Now, as New York is scheduled to travel to the east coast of Florida for two exhibition games in consecutive days, Sánchez will spend a few days away from the team and be re-evaluated on Friday.

READ: Just how serious is Gary Sánchez's back soreness?

“At the end of the day, I just want to be healthy,” Sánchez told reporters on Sunday, addressing his back discomfort for the first time. “If I’m healthy, I’m able to make adjustments and get to where I want to be.”

In seven games this spring, Sánchez has posted a measly .059 batting average (1-for-17). Boone attributed his struggles at the plate to timing issues, rather than his sore back.

As new Yankees catching coach Tanner Swanson introduced a modified stance behind the plate, it's possible adjusting to the slightly-altered crouch is contributing to Sánchez's soreness.

"That's probably the easy thing to run to, but I'm not so sure," Boone explained this past weekend regarding Sánchez's new positioning behind the dish. "Part of the stance is to alleviate some of the wear and tear. My hope is that over the long haul, it will be something that is a little less demanding physically. 

"When I watch with my eyes, that's what I'm seeing. I'm seeing him in a more comfortable, less demanding position. That said, it's different, so I guess there's certainly a possibility that it could be a contributor."

This injury update comes in the midst of an injury-plagued spring for the Yankees – several key contributors are set to miss Opening Day with an assortment of ailments. 

Right-hander Luis Severino will miss the entire 2020 season with Tommy John surgery, star right fielder Aaron Judge was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right rib and could need surgery, Giancarlo Stanton is nursing a Grade 1 right calf strain and southpaw James Paxton is gradually nearing his anticipated return date after lower back surgery last month. 

New York opens the regular season in just over two weeks – on Thursday, March 26 – against the Orioles in Baltimore. 

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