Notes: Grandal hurt; Abreu on new skipper

February 28th, 2021

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Yasmani Grandal has been out of action since twisting his right knee running in drills Wednesday, and the White Sox catcher will not take part in either of the team’s first two Cactus League contests.

“He's got a little inflammation in his knee,” said manager Tony La Russa. “So, we're going to hold him out for a couple days, so it works itself out.”

The switch-hitting Grandal is an integral part of the White Sox push toward a second straight postseason appearance, both at the plate and behind the plate. Zack Collins will start behind the plate for Sunday’s game against the Brewers at Camelback Ranch, while Yermín Mercedes gets the nod Monday against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.

Non-roster invite Jonathan Lucroy seems to have the edge as Grandal’s backup. But Grandal’s absence will give these other White Sox catchers a chance to show themselves.

“And we’re really evaluating, even in the games the last two days, the coaches' game, we’re evaluating the other four guys, whether it be Collins, Mercedes, [Seby] Zavala, Lucroy,” La Russa said. “[Carlos] Perez has looked really good. The opportunity is there for them to show something, get some attention.

“It’s early in the camp, we’ve got 30 games. Yas came in great shape, working very hard, so there’s no reason to push him before he’s ready. There’s time for him.”

White Sox contractual agreements

The White Sox agreed to terms on 2021 contracts with the following 22 players:

Pitchers (12): Zack Burdi, Dylan Cease, Jimmy Cordero, Garrett Crochet, Bernardo Flores Jr., Matt Foster, Codi Heuer, Tyler Johnson, Michael Kopech, Jimmy Lambert, José Ruiz and Jonathan Stiever.

Catchers (3): Collins, Mercedes and Zavala.

Infielders (4): Jake Burger, Nick Madrigal, Danny Mendick and Gavin Sheets.

Outfielders (3): Micker Adolfo, Luis González and Blake Rutherford.

With the signings, all members of the White Sox 40-man roster are under contract for the 2021 season. Cease ($600,000), Cordero ($590,000) and Heuer and Foster ($585,000) were the top salaries of this group.

Words of wisdom

José Abreu received a phone call a few days ago from Albert Pujols, his friend and someone who excelled under La Russa’s guidance from 2001-11 with the Cardinals. Pujols wanted Abreu to call him with his impressions of his first workout for La Russa.

In just one day, Abreu was as impressed as Pujols has been.

“Today and throughout all the conversations I’ve had with Tony I can tell he cares about people,” said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. “He cares about us and the team and that is something that will be very important for us.

“It will unite us and make us stronger. And baseball? He’s a Hall of Famer. We’re glad he’s here with us. We can take advantage of his knowledge. He is going to put us in position to succeed. I’m just glad to be here and I am glad he is here with us. Just try to enjoy and take advantage with him.”

When asked if he planned to call Pujols and share what he discovered, Abreu said “Yes.”

Third to first

• In order to break a deadlock in Saturday’s intrasquad game, the White Sox had a quick contest between hitting coach Frank Menechino and Hall of Famer Jim Thome, who is a special assistant to the general manager.

“Frank won with more hits,” La Russa said. “But Jim won it with a homer of about 500 feet and he hit it with José’s bat.”

La Russa joked during his Zoom about the 50-year-old Thome, retired since 2012, being in consideration for the team’s designated hitter’s role.

“I’d consider it,” a smiling La Russa said.

• Lucas Giolito is scheduled to start the Cactus League game on Tuesday at home against the Rangers. Lance Lynn, who threw live batting practice Saturday, will pitch in Scottsdale Thursday against the Giants. The rotation is shaping up as Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and Lynn at the top.

• Bennett Sousa, Kade McClure, Jacob Lindgren and Danny Dopico follow Mike Wright to the mound in Sunday’s Cactus League opener.

He said it

“I will have to ask him, ‘Hey, can you do a song for me to use as a walk-up song?’” -- Abreu on Yoán Moncada’s burgeoning musical career.