White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal ‘frustrated’ by slump

TORONTO — Yasmani Grandal had an awful first two months of the season at the plate.

A middle of the lineup bat who should be carrying his weight while the Sox play through a rash of injuries, Grandal knows he’s not.

“It will get anybody frustrated when you’re not able to do what you know you can do,” Grandal told the Sun-Times Thursday.

The Sox (23-25) have missed a slew of games from Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn, AJ Pollock and now Tim Anderson because of injury and illness and have one of the worst offenses in the majors, something no one saw coming. Grandal played in his 43rd game but he’s hitting a dreadful .163/.271/.218. with two homers.

Grandal’s swing has looked a bit long, and he’s been late on hard stuff from pitchers, which he attributes to his legs not being at full strength. Grandal had knee surgery July 5 to repair a torn tendon and a cleanup procedure after the season.

“[Not] being able to fire with the lower half,” Grandal said before out to take batting practice before Wedenesday’s series finale against the Blue Jays. “Hopefully it starts coming along.”

Grandal struck out looking with the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning against Alek Manoah (5-1, 1.77 ERA).

“It’s not so much about cage work, it’s more about weight room more than anything, to get the strength I need back in my legs so that I can use them the way I should be using them,” Grandal said. “That sounds pretty simple but it’s actually much harder than it is. I’ve been feeling better and better, the strength has gone up, which is huge. So hopefully things change a little bit in the coming weeks.”

While going through physical therapy for his knee during the offseason, Grandal said he was told it usually takes from six to eight months to regain full strength.

How bad has it been? Grandal’s .488 OPS ranks 162nd, or dead last, among qualified hitters. The 161st ranked player is Rangers $175 million free agent Marcus Semien, which goes to show that odd stuff happens. Grandal signed the richest contract in Sox history, $73 million for four years before the 2020 season.

“I look back to last year, he got off to a slow start and after his injury he came back really strong,” said Sox coach Jerry Narron, who works with catchers. “Over 162 games you’re going to seek your level. So at some point he’s going to get hot. It’s just a matter of when.

“Yas is going to hit. We like seeing Yas come up to bat. We feel like something has a chance to happen and at any point it’s going to click and he’s going to get it going. He’s one of those guys who can put up big numbers real quick.”

NOTE: The Sox will take a two-hour bus ride to Buffalo after their game Wednesday for the flight to St. Petersburg, Fla., for their series against the Rays. Crossing the border on ground avoids having to show negative results of COVID tests and the risk of leaving anyone behind. Other teams leaving Toronto have done the same thing.

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