Padres put Gary Sanchez in starting lineup against Marlins

MIAMI -- Gary Sanchez started at catcher and batted seventh in his first game with the San Diego Padres.

A day after he was claimed off waivers from the New York Mets, Sanchez started against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

"You come to a point in time in a season where you try to incrementally upgrade," Padres manager Bob Melvin said. "I know he's been through a few teams here recently but does have a history of performing."

Sanchez, a two-time All-Star, was designated for assignment Thursday after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1-for-6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

"It's been a little difficult but what's happened has been in the past," Sanchez said of his team changes, speaking through a translator. "Now I am looking to the future here in San Diego. I'm focused on now."

With the disappointing Padres getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sanchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola was batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, was hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

"I'm excited to be able join a clubhouse that has so many superstars," Sanchez said. "There is so much talent on this team. I'm just excited to be able to help, contribute."

San Diego became the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sanchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomas Nido from the injured list last week, Sanchez was cut.

Sanchez's best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019. He hit 20 home runs with a 1.032 OPS in 53 games in 2016, had 33 homers and 90 RBIs with an .876 OPS in 2017, and 34 homers with 77 RBIs and an .841 OPS in 2019.

Sanchez was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

San Diego began Tuesday with a major league low .220 team batting average.

"Right now, we're looking for a little bit more offense," Melvin said. "The team is down offensively a little bit. Hopefully he brings that to us as well."