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White Sox’ Yasmani Grandal isn’t certain he’ll be full-go to catch by Opening Day

“I’m definitely not going to rush into things,” said Grandal, who appeared in his first spring game Saturday at DH.

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians
Yasmani Grandal won’t be ready to catch for the Sox for a while longer.
Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Yasmani Grandal was in the lineup for the first time Saturday, a welcome sight for the White Sox. In the DH spot, he popped up and struck out against the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani and walked in his final time up before clocking out early.

But Grandal — who twisted his right knee in a Feb. 24 workout — still isn’t ready to catch in a game, though he has done some catching in drills. And he isn’t sure he’ll be fully up to speed by Opening Day.

“I’m definitely not going to rush into things,” he said. “I’m hoping I get the amount of at-bats I need to feel comfortable, but right now, repetition behind the plate is probably No. 1. . . . Catching-wise, where I’m blocking and I’m throwing and I’m moving around and calling the game and seeing how the game is going along, I think that’s No. 1.”

There was no structural damage to the knee, Grandal said, but it swelled up — and scared him — three weeks ago after he “stepped wrong on it and felt something right away.” Without full extension of the leg, he walked funny for a while and, once he put the gear back on in drills, caught funny for a while. He still hasn’t resumed his customary stance.

“But right now it feels 10 times better than it did back then,” he said. “Strength is coming back. I’m finally able to walk normal. We’ll continue to check out boxes and keep working at it, keep going with it.”

Meanwhile, he was excited just to get into a game.

“It means a lot, nice to be out there competing,” he said. “I don’t deal too good with [being held out], especially when I’m hurt. The fact that I was able to go out and have a regular day and just compete — period — is definitely a good thing for me.”

Ringing endorsement for Katz

Two days after former longtime pitching coach Don Cooper complained on a radio show that the Sox no longer care about him, reliever Evan Marshall discussed Cooper’s 37-year-old replacement, Ethan Katz.

“We certainly miss Coop,” Marshall said. “Ethan’s definitely a different flavor. The youth is nice, and he’s very involved. . . .

“Ethan’s going to take a lot of guys’ games to the next level, and there should be no regression among anybody. If you’re heading that way, he’s got a great eye and will be able to catch it and get you back going the other way.”

Not calf bad

Right-hander Michael Kopech is scheduled to throw in relief Monday against the Cubs. He was going to pitch Friday but felt tightness in his calf and threw a side session instead. He felt fine Saturday.

SOX 6, ANGELS 5

Gotta get ’em in

Maybe the biggest thing the Sox are working on these days is getting runners home from third base with less than two outs. Nothing sucks the air out of an offense like failing habitually in this area.

“We haven’t done well there,” manager Tony La Russa said. ‘‘It’s an important area that would’ve changed the outcomes of several [spring] games already, just the one thing. You don’t want to lose, but it’s a great teacher, and we’re learning.”

A better showing Saturday as the last two of the Sox’ five second-inning runs scored with two outs. The first came in on Jose Abreu’s walk, the second on Yoan Moncada’s single.

Lambert looks good

He pitched only an inning, but Jimmy Lambert had nasty stuff, striking out two. He has a big fan in La Russa.

“It’s honestly surreal,” Lambert said. “I grew up watching teams that were managed by him, and he’s a baseball legend, so to have him speak highly of me is definitely really cool. … I just want to prove him right, and I want to be a part of this thing.”

Luis Robert Day

Isn’t it always a holiday when Robert hits one of his towering home runs? He got Shohei Ohtani with one in the second. It went really high. And really far. No extra charge for the analysis.

On deck

Sox at Athletics, 3:05 p.m. Sunday, Mesa, MLBN, Lance Lynn vs. Frankie Montas.