Grandal starts rehab assignment month after knee surgery

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Incredibly, Yasmani Grandal is about to start playing again.

And he might be playing for the Chicago White Sox relatively soon.

The team's No. 1 catcher tore a tendon in his knee in early July while swinging the bat in a game against the Minnesota Twins. He had surgery to repair that torn tendon a couple days later. Wednesday, just a little more than a month removed from the surgery, the White Sox announced that Grandal is starting a rehab assignment at Double-A Birmingham.

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"I think it's amazing," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "And I'm not exaggerating."

Indeed, the rapidity of the progress seems remarkable, something in line with the recoveries of teammates Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert, who are back with the team after suffering significant injuries of their own in late March and early May, respectively.

Grandal has been a constant sight working out ahead of games, running in the outfield just weeks removed from the surgery and taking extensive rounds of batting practice as time has moved along.

Last month in Milwaukee, Grandal said, half-joking, that he aimed to make it back from his surgery in three weeks, the fastest the doctor told him anyone ever had recovered. And though he described that immediately as an unrealistic goal, he's not long removed from that seemingly outlandish timeline.


"A lot of it, I think, is his toughness and his willingness to work," La Russa said. "He's shown that over and over again. He's been dogged, man. And I mean that in a complimentary way, since you know how I feel about dogs. Every day he's just grinding and grinding. And it's paying off.

"I think we can be optimistic that once he starts playing and rehabbing, we'll get him back sooner rather than later."

Grandal's return will obviously be the third in a series of huge boosts for the White Sox lineup, who got Jiménez back only to see him go off on a monumental home-run tear and who are already reaping the benefits of Robert's return to action. Grandal makes it a third middle-of-the-order bat reinstalled into the White Sox lineup as they continue to chase a championship and look to team a rejuvenated offense with a pitching staff that's dominated for much of the campaign.

When he went down, Grandal was the team's hottest hitter, in the kind of groove he's made a habit of throughout his career following a start slowed by a springtime injury. At the time of his injury, he was still batting just .188 but showing that batting average isn't everything with a .388 on-base percentage and 14 home runs in 63 games.

Grandal, of course, also will reunite the White Sox pitching staff with its top backstop. Grandal's positive effect on the pitchers has been discussed at length, and even though Seby Zavala has provided a solid substitute with what he's doing behind the plate, Grandal's experience — and in particular postseason experience — will be a valuable asset as the South Siders set their sights on a long October run.

The White Sox have long waited to return to full strength. With Grandal's return coming, assuming all goes well, at the end of the rehab stint announced Wednesday, full strength is not far away.

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