Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday)

A PITCHER’S BEST FRIEND

CATCHER YASMANI GRANDAL ALREADY HAS IMPRESSED THE SOX’ STAFF WITH HIS WORK ETHIC, PREPARATIO­N AND DESIRE TO MAKE EVERYONE BETTER

- By Steve Greenberg

GLENDALE, Arizona — Catcher Yasmani Grandal moved a little more than 2,000 miles, from Los Angeles to Milwaukee, for the 2019 baseball season. Then he had new teammate Gio Gonzalez move about two feet.

At Grandal’s urging, the veteran lefthander — then in his 12th major-league season — changed his positionin­g on the mound from the third-base side of the rubber to the first-base side.

‘‘I was on the third-base side for, what, 10 years or longer?’’ Gonzalez said. ‘‘At first it was disorienti­ng, but you learn it through bullpen [sessions], try it maybe one or two times in a game, maybe a certain batter, and you eventually make the change. And once I did, just moving me over on the mound alone made a world of difference for me.’’

Gonzalez finished strong with the Brewers, posting a 1.17 ERA in 23 innings in September. That helped him land a free-agent deal with the White Sox in December. Grandal — who had hopped on the Sox train a month earlier, the biggest addition in a momentous offseason for the team — had a hand in that move, too.

Grandal, 31, has made a deep, wide, almost instant imprint on the Sox since signing for a club-record $73 million over four years. He has done it with a highly unusual combinatio­n of analysis, initiative, communicat­iveness, work ethic, keen observatio­nal skill and first impression­s.

The Cuban-born, Miami-raised switch hitter’s outstandin­g 2019 offensive numbers — 28 home runs, 77 RBI, more than 100 walks and a .380 on-base percentage that led all big-league catchers — only scratch the surface of what the Sox hope to get from him.

The bigger picture is Grandal’s ability and desire — it’s almost an obsession — to work with each Sox pitcher to discover

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Sox lefty Gio Gonzalez credited Yasmani Grandal for moving him from the third-base side of the rubber to the firstbase side when both were with the Brewers last season. He said it “made a world of difference for me.’’
GETTY IMAGES Sox lefty Gio Gonzalez credited Yasmani Grandal for moving him from the third-base side of the rubber to the firstbase side when both were with the Brewers last season. He said it “made a world of difference for me.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States