After suffering a twisted knee early in camp, Yasmani Grandal played in his first game of the spring today. Grandal was in the White Sox lineup as a DH, and it isn’t yet known when he might return to his usual spot at catcher. Grandal told reporters (including NBC Sports Chicago’s Vinnie Duber) that he is focused on his catching preparation, saying “right now, repetition behind the plate is probably No. 1. I could (not) care less if I start off the season hitting or not. I know the bat is going to come through at some point, and once that happens, then it’s a done deal.”
Given the length of time between now and Opening Day, it doesn’t seem like Grandal will require any sort of injured list trip to allow him another week to get fully ready. With James McCann now signed with the Mets, Chicago’s backup catching options include the inexperienced Zack Collins and veteran Jonathan Lucroy (in camp on a minor league deal), and Grandal is expected to take more of the catching load in 2021.
More on some injury situations from around the league…
- Brandon Belt’s readiness for the Giants’ opener is more of a question, as he got a late start on Spring Training and still hasn’t played in any games. Belt told reporters (including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle) that he spent several weeks recovering first from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and then a case of mono almost immediately afterwards. Beyond these twin illnesses, Belt’s readiness for Opening Day was already a bit up in the air due to his heel surgery from last October. While Belt is a major contributor to the Giants’ offense, the team at least has quite a bit of first base depth — Darin Ruf, Wilmer Flores, Austin Slater, Tommy La Stella, or even Buster Posey — to fill the gap until Belt is ready to play.
- Brad Miller was a late scratch from today’s Phillies lineup after suffering a ribcage injury during a running drill. Manager Joe Girardi told NBC Sports’ Jim Salisbury and other reporters that Miller suffered a “tweak” and will get further testing done to determine the extent of the injury. There certainly appears to be some concern that Miller has hurt his oblique, which would require at least a few weeks out of action and an IL stint. After initially playing for the Phillies in 2019, Miller spent last season with the Cardinals before signing a one-year, $3.5MM deal this winter to return to Philadelphia. The 31-year Miller brings both multi-positional value and a solid bat (.247/.343/.510 with 20 home runs over 341 plate appearances in 2019-20) to the roster, making him a difficult player to replace for the Phils if indeed Miller does end up on the IL.
- Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama left tonight’s game with a tight left hamstring and will be re-evaluated tomorrow. In his first MLB season, Akiyama hit .245/.357/.297 in 183 PA, though he hit significantly better in September and October once he became more adjusted to Major League pitching. Between this improved bat and some solid glovework, Akiyama was being counted on for at least a big part-time role in Cincinnati’s outfield, though those plans could be altered should his hamstring injury prove serious.