GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When the White Sox began planning the 2020 season, having their free-agent acquisition Yasmani Grandal behind the plate was a large part of that. Unfortunately for Grandal and the Sox, a nagging left calf strain has prevented their new catcher from seeing much action this spring.
The 31-year-old injured his left calf two weeks before the White Sox opened camp and has been sidelined since. Grandal, who signed the largest free-agent contract in team history in November, is progressing in his rehab, and while there’s plenty of time to get healthy before Opening Day on March 26, there has been a small sense of frustration during the process.
“I’ve been hurt before. I guess the frustration was the fact that I got hurt now,” Grandal said. “I don’t think ever since 2015, I haven’t been hurt. I got hurt before this whole thing started. That’s the frustration. I got a lot of work to do. I got a lot of things I got to do outside of the game in order to still be involved.
“We were doing sprints, resistance sprints and there could have been a lot of things. Could have been dehydration or just trying to go too hard. It was really weird, something I never felt before. It almost felt like when you tie a knot and you untie it. That's kind of what it felt like. I guess that's the best explanation.”
The White Sox have avoided putting a strict timeline on when he could begin seeing Cactus League reps, and they also haven't discussed a number of games for him to be ready. Grandal is close, though, and has done pretty much everything except see game action.
Grandal has been a model of consistency in terms of both production and durability. He’s averaged 132 games since 2014 and 146 over the past two seasons.
Grandal has been hitting and catching bullpens while recovering, but the team has been monitoring his workload. On Thursday, he fielded bunts and went through fielding drills. He moved well as he went through extended live batting practice on Friday -- facing starters Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech -- which included running hard out of the batter’s box. He said the soreness he felt initially after suffering the injury is now completely gone.
“All the measurements and metrics that are used to measure strength and endurance seem to indicate that he's doing quite well," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "We're happy to hear that. As far as the other one once he starts playing, there's enough time for him to start feeling that sense of, 'My body is working.'"
Grandal will continue to ramp up the intensity of his workouts until he is able to see action in the Cactus League.
“You don’t want to get on the field and do something you’ve never done before,” Grandal said. “So we’re trying to cover every single area that’s available to us and what we think we need to make sure we’re safe out there.”
“They've done everything they can to make sure he's been through a rigorous recovery process,” Renteria said. “They went through blocking and recovering yesterday, which is a very explosive move and is one of the last things we were wanting to see and he did very well. As you spoke to him today, and he said he hasn't felt any soreness. The indication is that he's doing very, very well.”
Grandal’s final step in his road to recovery will ultimately be playing games and going through in-game movements and motions at full speed, something that’s difficult to simulate in controlled settings.
“Oh, we're going to get in games,” Grandal said. “We have it planned out. We gave ourselves room to make sure I'm playing back-to-back days, make sure I'm playing three days in a row. We gave [ourselves] some room for error.”