Grandal nurses knee as backup-catcher battle gets going originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Yasmani Grandal has been sidelined the last few days of White Sox camp after twisting his knee during a running drill last week.
According to manager Tony La Russa, the White Sox starting catcher was dealing with a little inflammation in his knee and was held out of practice, expected to miss the first couple Cactus League games. Grandal didn't play in the White Sox spring opener against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
The White Sox provided an update Sunday that Grandal is ramping up his hitting and throwing and is expected back soon.
While Grandal's absence seems like it will be brief, it could have some sort of impact, however small, on the battle for job of backing him up. That's one of the few position fights of note in White Sox camp, with youngsters Zack Collins, Yermín Mercedes and Seby Zavala, as well as veteran Jonathan Lucroy, all in the mix.
"When (Grandal) doesn’t play, it’s going to create opportunities," La Russa said Saturday. "And we’re really evaluating, even in the (intrasquad) games the last two days, we’re evaluating the other four guys.
"I’d rather have Yaz on time, but if Collins catches tomorrow and starts the game and Mercedes catches the game Monday, figure out which guy gets the second half of both of those, the opportunity is there for them to show something, get some attention."
Collins did just that Sunday, getting the start in the White Sox spring debut. Zavala came in and caught later in the game.
Collins' bat has long been attention-grabbing, and the last time he received regular at-bats, in the minors during the 2019 season, he put up impressive on-base and power numbers. But he hasn't received much opportunity in the majors, with the White Sox boasting an All-Star catching tandem of Grandal and James McCann during the shortened 2020 season. Sunday, Collins walked in one of his two trips to the dish.
But as good as the bat has looked, Collins has been questioned about his defensive ability since he was drafted by the White Sox in 2016, and those questions accompanied him into this battle for the team's backup job.
"That was my first in-person game watching him" La Russa said after Sunday's game. "I've seen him on tape, watched him work out a lot. He's already put in a lot of time, he's in great shape. He took a walk, a tough walk. I think he handled himself really well, he was creative behind the plate.
"We've got a serious competition for the (backup) catching spot on this ballclub. That'll be one of the fun things to watch."