Suspension provides a lesson for Gary Sanchez

NEW YORK -- Pedro Martinez might be a Baseball Hall of Famer, but he is wrong. Yankees All-Star Gary Sanchez won’t be “badly remembered for this for a long time,” just as Martinez is not badly remembered for slamming 72-year-old Yankees coach Don Zimmer to the ground all those years ago.

It is a mark on Martinez’s record, but it is not what everyone remembers him for. It just comes up when Martinez makes comments, like the ones he did about Sanchez.

But what shouldn’t be lost as everyone has a critical word about Sanchez’s sucker punches during Thursday’s brawl with the Tigers is his age. He is just 24. His talent is so immense that he is on a big stage, with a lot of focus. In his mistake and the fallout, this might allow Sanchez to grow, as a player and a person.

“I’m a young ballplayer,” Sanchez said. “I’ve been in the league about a year and a half, stuff like that is stuff you learn from. If something like that is to happen in the future, maybe I’ll react differently. It is part of the process, part of the journey.”

No one told Sanchez how he should respond in a baseball brawl. Maybe he should have known better, but the Yankees could have advised him. New York manager Joe Girardi admitted the subject never came up during the endless seven weeks of spring training. It might be time to add that to next year’s binder. Girardi said it wouldn’t matter, because instinct takes over. Maybe so, but it might have saved Sanchez from himself.

Sanchez is still learning, even if his talent is off the charts. He might not become a Hall of Famer like Martinez, but in almost his first full season of games, he is hitting with Cooperstown quality.

Entering Friday, he had played in 148 career games, hitting .278 with 47 homers and 116 RBIs. If he has the maturity to keep on consistently working, only injury could stop him.

“Gary is a fiery player,” Girardi said. “Gary has a lot of fight in him. And that is one thing that you never want to take away from a player. I know another catcher had a lot of fire and had a lot of fight in him and ended being a great player and could one day end up in the Hall of Fame and his number is retired out in Monument Park. And that’s what we loved about Jorge [Posada]. Learning how to control it, as you go through the game, is important. The kid plays with a lot of passion. He is going to protect his teammates. He loves his teammates.

“But he’ll learn from things that go on.”

Girardi would not criticize Sanchez’s actions. However, you could tell that if Sanchez were on another team, Girardi would have thought they were bush league. Most everyone knew that Sanchez was wrong.

Sanchez didn’t admit he made a mistake, but saying he could do something different next time is close enough.

He is a star and a vital player, which carries with it responsibility. Sanchez saw the attention he brought upon himself and the damage his absence could do to his team.

“It is not a good feeling,” Sanchez said.

If he learns from this, it will one day be long forgotten.