White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal ‘frustrated’ by poor performance

The catcher is hopeful his swing will come around as his legs regain full strength.

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The White Sox’ Yasmani Grandal reacts after striking out against the Los Angeles Angels in Chicago on April 29, 2022.

The White Sox’ Yasmani Grandal has been frustrated by his slow offensive start.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

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

Grandal knows he’s not carrying his weight as a middle-of-the-lineup bat as the Sox play through a rash of injuries.

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

The Sox (23-26) 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 Thursday, going 0-for-3 with a walk in the 8-3 loss, but he’s hitting a dreadful .160/.270/.213 with two homers.

Grandal’s swing has looked a bit long, and he has been late on hard stuff from pitchers. He attributes that 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 taking batting practice before the series finale against the Blue Jays. “Hopefully it starts coming along.”

Grandal was up in a needy spot in the first inning but struck out looking with the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning against Alek Manoah.

“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 therapy for his knee during the offseason, Grandal was told it can take six to eight months to regain full strength.

How bad has it been? Grandal’s .483 OPS ranks at the bottom among qualified hitters. One notch above him is the Rangers’ $175 million free agent Marcus Semien, which goes to show strange things happen. Grandal signed the richest contract in Sox history, $73 million for four years, before the 2020 season.

“Over 162 games you’re going to seek your level,” said coach Jerry Narron, who works with Sox catchers. “So at some point he’s going to get hot. It’s just a matter of when.

“Yas is going to hit. 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.”

The bus to Buffalo

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

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Right-hander Jimmy Lambert was added to the active roster before the game. Lambert allowed a double, walk and struck out a batter in eighth-inning mop-up duty. Kendall Graveman and Dylan Cease, who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 and were not permitted to travel to Canada, will return to the active roster for the Rays series this weekend after missing the series in Toronto.

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