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Heyman | Alex Rodriguez gave Gary Sanchez important nudge

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 19: New York Yankees Catcher Gary Sanchez (24) looks on from the dugout during a MLB game between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees on July 19, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN. The Twins defeated the Yankees 6-1. (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

It turns out Alex Rodriguez applied a little tough love to get the best out of Gary Sanchez.

It’s widely known that A-Rod and his famous girlfriend Jennifer Lopez took Sanchez out to lunch at team owner Hal Steinbrenner’s behest, but what wasn’t known until now is what was said at their get together.

Some people in the organization felt at the time that Sanchez was 10-to-15 pounds over his optimal weight, and not reaching his potential. And apparently, Rodriguez didn’t mince words when the two men spoke at the get together.

According to someone familiar with their conversation but not there, Rodriguez gave the Yankees catcher a bit of a warning, telling him, “Do you want to be Jesus Montero or Johnny Bench?” or words to that effect.

The message was clear. Even a talented player’s career could go one way or the other. Whatever he said, it seems to have worked wonders.

Steinbrenner correctly surmised that Rodriguez could connect with Sanchez, and his game has turned around since the talk with A-Rod. Rodriguez, contacted about the talk, downplayed it, saying, “A guy like Gary Sanchez, who’s so talented, you don’t have to give him a push, maybe just a little nudge.”

Rodriguez said he just thought maybe some “realigning” of his routine and conditioning might be in order.

Whatever A-Rod did, it’s obviously worked. Over the last month, Sanchez is hitting .284/.350/.670 with 11 home runs and 24 runs batted in. Over the last 14 days, those numbers are slightly down at .271/.314/.646, but with six home runs and 16 runs batted in.

On the season, Sanchez is up to a .274/.346/.534 line with 27 home runs and 75 RBI, despite missing 21 games early in the season with a biceps strain.

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