Yasmani Grandal knows reason for three catcher’s-interference calls

It’s due to his efforts to frame pitches and an altered one-knee stance behind the plate to protect his right knee after dealing with inflammation during spring training.

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Yasmani Grandal reaches for a high and inside ball as the Mariners’ Jake Fraley ducks.

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Yasmani Grandal already has been called for catcher’s interference three times this year. So how does he avoid racking up more?

“I don’t know,” Grandal said Friday. “I quite frankly don’t know.” 

Grandal does know the reason for the increase: It’s due to his efforts to frame pitches and an altered one-knee stance behind the plate to protect his right knee after dealing with inflammation during spring training. 

In the spring, Grandal said, the Sox tried to figure out how catchers can receive the ball better. He said they’ll have to see how far back he can go while remaining a strong pitch-framer.

“It’s a work in progress, but I’m not too worried about it,” Grandal said.

The change in stance has allowed the analytical Grandal to use himself as a guinea pig, which he likes because it has challenged him to “work on a whole new world I didn’t know about.”

Billy’s back
Billy Hamilton (strained left hamstring) returned from the 10-day injured list to give Tony La Russa another option in left field. Unlike Andrew Vaughn, who started in left field Friday night, Hamilton has years of experience playing in the outfield.

The 30-year-old Hamilton is eager to assist Vaughn and lend his expertise. 

“The type of knowledge I know just from being in the outfield, it’s always good to hear coming from guys who have been out there and stuff like that,” Hamilton said. “It’s going to be good to be back in battle with the guys and get back into the swing of things.” 

Speaking of swinging, Hamilton is off to an encouraging 3-for-11 start at the plate. Admittedly, Hamilton is known for his blazing speed and not his bat, but he said being around the Sox and Tim Anderson has given him confidence at the plate.

“He’s been one of the main guys that every single day is like, ‘Let’s go. Get your couple of hits a game and then you’re going to be good,’” Hamilton said. “Having him every single day brings it out of me, for sure.” 

Pitcher Alex McRae was optioned to Schaumburg to make room for Hamilton.

Abreu in the field
Jose Abreu got what he wanted Friday, returning to first base after serving as the Sox’ designated hitter Tuesday in Cleveland.

And he really wanted to get back out there.

“I considered [playing Abreu at DH] until he grabbed me by the neck and made sure I understood,” La Russa joked. “He didn’t have to apply much pressure to my neck. I got it.” 

All kidding aside, La Russa said Abreu would’ve played first if Wednesday’s game hadn’t been postponed. That’s where the Sox manager likes the 2020 AL MVP, though the occasional day as a DH isn’t the worst thing. 

“He improves our infield when he plays first,” La Russa said.

Injury updates
La Russa said pitcher Lance Lynn (strained right trapezius) will probably be back next week. Because of Monday’s upcoming day off plus the two recent open dates, the Sox don’t have to push the 33-year-old righty.

As for Adam Engel (strained right hamstring), La Russa said he’s making progress, but the team still thinks he won’t be back until early May.

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