Gary Sanchez foregoes World Baseball Classic to focus on 2017 Yankees season
This upcoming season will mark the first full 162-game schedule for Sanchez at the Major League level, and in order to meet that challenge, he'll sacrifice an opportunity to play alongside a stacked Dominican Republic team, as well as one of his Yankees teammates.
According to Sweeny Murti of WFAN, Sanchez had previously informed the Dominican National team that he would participate in this year's games, which are scheduled to get underway in less than a month. However during the course of this week, Sanchez had a change of heart and instead chose to devote 100% of his preseason efforts to getting ready for his first full season with the Yankees.
The 24-year-old backstop and Santo Domingo native rose to fame by collecting rookie records nearly every week he played in 2016. Sanchez eventually finished runner-up in the AL Rookie of the Year race to Detroit's Michael Fulmer, despite blasting 20 home runs and 42 RBI in just 53 games.
Without Sanchez, Team Dominica will still field one of the most talented groups in this year's 2017 WBC, with a roster that includes Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, former Yankee Robinson Cano, as well as perennial All-Stars Jose Bautista, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and Manny Machado, among others.
While Team Dominica supporters would no doubt welcome the opportunity to watch a dominant hitter like Sanchez suit up alongside such MLB standouts, Yankees fans will be glad that he's fully focused on the task at hand in the Bronx.
After a staggering month of August, Sanchez's furious pace at the plate slowed down over the course of the final month of the regular season, leaving some to wonder what his output might be over the course of 162 games. Most projections expect him to regress from his ludicrous 2016 pace this coming season, but the Yankees maintain high hopes that their new-found slugger can deliver the goods in the heart of the lineup all year long.
For more information on the World Baseball Classic, check out the link here.