BALTIMORE -- Gary Sanchez's suspension has been reduced from four to three games, and he began serving it on Monday, leaving the Yankees without one of their hottest hitters for this week's series against the Orioles.
Coming off a key showdown in The Bronx in which they took three of four games from the American League East-leading Red Sox to pull within 3 1/2 of the division lead, the Yankees are preparing for another tough battle against the O's, who trail New York by 3 1/2 games for the first AL Wild Card. The Twins sit two games back of the Yanks.
"In a way I feel good about it, and then on the other hand I don't feel good about it," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I'm unable to help my team in these important games, and I want to be able to help."
Sanchez said that his appeal was handled by his agent and the Major League Baseball Players Association, and he will be eligible to return on Friday, when the Yankees take on the Rangers in Arlington. Sanchez said that he felt fortunate to have been able to play in the series against Boston.
"Obviously this is an important time for us, so we don't want to miss him at all, but again, it's better than four," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Taking one game off could be really important for us. The next three days we'll be without him, and we'll have to deal with it and we'll go from there."
Catcher Austin Romine was also suspended for two games; his appeal is still ongoing. Girardi said that he plans to have Romine catch all three games against the Orioles; the club also added veteran Erik Kratz to the active roster last week following a trade with the Indians.
"[Romine is] familiar with the pitchers, he understands the staff and I think it's tough to bring a catcher in this time of year that hasn't seen the staff," Girardi said. "But if we need Kratzie, I'm not afraid to put him in there."
Sanchez was originally suspended four games for his role in an Aug. 24 benches-clearing incident between the Yankees and Tigers at Comerica Park, which involved throwing punches. The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera received the harshest penalty, which was reduced from seven games to six.
"I want to apologize for my actions during the last Detroit Tigers series," Sanchez said in a statement released on his Facebook page. "The heat of the moment and my desire to protect my teammates led me to commit some errors during the brawl. It's an incident I regret and from which I have learned.
"I know to some these may be mere words, but they are words that I feel the need to express, because I sincerely feel this way, and for respect to you, the fans, the Yankees organization, the Detroit Tigers and the game of Baseball."
Sanchez has tallied seven homers and 20 RBIs in his last 17 games, and is hitting .276/.344/.527 with 28 homers and 79 RBIs in 103 games overall.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.