Grandal moving forward in gearing up for 2023

White Sox catcher healthy, expecting to see better results after tough '22 campaign

February 19th, 2023

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Many topics were covered by Yasmani Grandal during his first Spring Training media session. 

But the veteran White Sox catcher would not address any questions dealing with last season.

“We’ve already spoke about last year,” Grandal said. “So, it’s a new year. Let’s talk about this year.”

A great deal of optimism clearly exists among the South Siders. There’s also a collective chip on the team’s shoulders -- proving last year’s 81-81, playoff-less finish didn’t come close to illustrating the full value of this group.

On a personal level, Grandal’s streak of seven consecutive seasons in the postseason ended. He struggled at the plate with a .269 slugging percentage and a .570 OPS, one year after producing a lofty .939 OPS in 93 games.

Surgery on his right knee after the 2021 campaign left Grandal doing offseason rehab and eventually rehabbing during a lockout. During this past offseason, a healthy Grandal went full force for ’23 preparation with Chicago Blackhawks head strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman, as Grandal estimated the training session total at over 100.

It wasn’t the most grueling offseason work Grandal's ever done, but it was what he needed. 

“Grueling as in like where I was at the end of the year last year? Yes,” Grandal said. “But previous years before that I got after it pretty hard. It was exactly what I was looking for. You see the difference right away. You see the difference catching and moving, and running and hitting. And then recovering, it’s way faster than you are used to recovering.

“That’s why that regimen of training seven days a week and understanding what it is that we needed to do on a daily basis, that’s why it helps out once you get to Spring Training. You don’t have the body aches, the pains, nothing like that. It’s a matter of coming in and keeping your routine going, and taking it all the way from here to the end of the season.”

Manager Pedro Grifol has praised Grandal’s early Spring Training work, adding “he’s strong, he’s focused,” and talked about Grandal's work capacity being high to put in a full day’s work. The duo bonded almost immediately, with Grifol and Grandal attending a Blackhawks game on the November night of Grifol’s introductory press conference.

Grifol quipped they talked about nothing more than hockey to gain a greater understanding of the game. He quickly added they discussed how to get this team in the right place to do what it's supposed to do and produce what is expected.

“I don't like to rush those conversations,” Grifol said. “There's a time frame for all of that. All I was doing was just gathering information on how I was expecting to run camp. But again, it's not my camp, it's their camp and how we're going to get them ready for Opening Day. Those were my conversations with him and every other player that I spoke to.”

“He’s been great,” Grandal said of Grifol. “Obviously, you see him pretty much all over the place. I can only speak for the catching group. He’s been with us. He’s shared his knowledge when it comes down to catching. He’s talked about pitchers. He’s talking about sequences and stuff like that. Game situations and things like that. So, from that standpoint of view, he’s been great.”

Over the tough 2022 season, Grandal caught 71 games, played first base five times and served as designated hitter 25 times. But last year is over, as Grandal pointed out on Sunday.

Grandal is Grifol’s catcher, with the manager not even thinking about games at DH for Grandal at this point. Grandal doesn’t have a set number of starts behind the plate on his mind -- working in the final season of a four-year, $73 million deal -- leaving that decision to the coaching staff.

“I’m going to be ready on a daily basis and whenever I’m playing, I’m playing. Whenever I’m not, I’m still doing whatever it is I need to do to get ready,” Grandal said. “The fact that I'm able to move through the bottom while I'm catching, being agile back there, being strong, having my legs underneath me, it's going to allow me to do many things behind the plate.

“Whether it's blocking, receiving or throwing, whatever it is that I need to do. From that aspect of the game, it feels really good.”