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Grandal about to make Sox lineup even more 'dangerous'

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
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The Chicago White Sox are getting closer to getting even more dangerous.

Yasmani Grandal, the team's top catcher working his way back from knee surgery at the beginning of last month, had his rehab assignment transferred to Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday, the next step in a process that continues to be stunning in how quickly it's moving along.

"I wouldn't say miraculous, but it's impressive," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday, "a little bit amazing."

RELATED: Luis Robert shows myriad ways he can change the game

Grandal obviously means so much to the White Sox. When he went down with the torn tendon in his knee in early July, he was the team's hottest hitter. And he earns constant plaudits for his work with the White Sox pitching staff.

Mesh those things together, and you've got another midsummer boost for a club that's already benefited from the returns of Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert and made deadline deals for Craig Kimbrel and Cèsar Hernández.

Considering the White Sox managed to keep their World Series hopes afloat and establish themselves as legitimate championship contenders without their injured stars, getting every piece of the puzzle back to full strength could send them into postseason-favorite status.

"If you think about when he was hurt," La Russa said, "he was right there with our most dangerous run producers. He was walking all year, but he started really getting a lot of big hits. So offensively, he's going to help us.

 

"I made a point yesterday, the most important way Eloy and Luis and Yaz help us is if the other six guys in the lineup continue to take the responsibility like they did when they were missing.

"If we do that, we're dangerous."

As for how much longer Grandal's rehab assignment will last, that question was tougher to answer for La Russa, who pointed out that Grandal's position makes him a more challenging player to evaluate than, say, Jiménez and Robert when they were playing at Charlotte during their own rehab assignments.

"It's going to be a tougher evaluation for the folks down there," La Russa said, "just because it's more complicated with what he brings to a club. His bat may be ready, but (maybe) his catching ... needs more timing.

"I'm sure the mental part of taking at-bats and handling pitching is going to be fine. But it's more complicated. Since we need all of it, one may be ahead of the other, the glove may be ahead of the bat. It's a tough read, it's not easy."

But no matter how long it takes, La Russa remains correct that Grandal's speed in advancing through the recovery process is remarkable. To go from knee surgery to the doorstep of returning to the majors in a month and a half — and figuring to be a key contributor once he does return — is, like the skipper said, amazing.

And an important reason why the White Sox can dream big about their October fortunes.

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