Yankees expect Gary Sanchez back by opening day after shoulder surgery; sign Lavarnway to minors deal just in case

 New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez had a disappointing season. He posted an 86 OPS+ and struggled to block pitches while appearing in just 89 games due to injury. Sanchez may not find relief from his down year until next season, but his left shoulder ought to begin feeling better sooner than later following the operation he underwent on Thursday to clear up tissue:

Sanchez's shoulder had pestered him dating back to 2017. In fact, he'd received three cortisone shots over the last two years as a means of handling the pain. Here's what Billy Witz of the New York Times wrote about Sanchez's issues last week:

Sanchez, who is right-handed, has been plagued by intermittent irritation in his shoulder since 2017. He had one cortisone shot a year ago and two more this season, but the Yankees believed that the problem would subside with some rest at the end of the season.

However, when Sanchez began working out again last week in Tampa, Fla., he complained of irritation.

Sanchez is expected to recover within three months, a timetable that should see him hearty and hale before the regular season begins. If Sanchez isn't ready to roll, however, general manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees would proceed with Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka behind the plate. That same pair filled in for Sanchez in 2018.

Coincidentally, the Yankees did add a new backstop to the depth chart on Thursday, inking Ryan Lavarnway to a minor-league deal.

Lavarnway has appeared in parts of seven big-league seasons, most recently suiting up for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He could factor into the equation if either Romine or Higashioka get hurt.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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