(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
Still unable to throw or swing a bat with just nine days remaining until Opening Day, Dodgers’ catcher Yasmani Grandal may be dangerously close to beginning the season on the disabled list.
Grandal has been battling soreness in his right forearm for the past two weeks, and apparently the strain was made worse when he fouled a ball off his upper arm in a Cactus League game against the Mariners on Monday.
An MRI administered on Tuesday showed no muscular or structural damage, but as a precautionary measure, the Dodgers have shut down Grandal from both throwing and hitting until Monday at the soonest.
He caught Kenta Maeda‘s bullpen session on Thursday but flipped the ball to minor league catcher Garrett Kennedy, who threw the ball back to the pitcher.
Grandal claims the forearm strain was triggered by taking extra batting practice over the winter, trying to regain his hitting stroke following surgery and rehab on his left shoulder.
The switch-hitting catcher told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that it’s not a big concern, and after taking one small step backward, he should be ready for Opening Day on April 4.
“If it was up to me, I’d play today. You’ve got to respect the decision, it’s made for my benefit and health. They didn’t set a date to play, all they said is we don’t want you to go out there too soon and redo it,” Grandal said. “It’s not like I feel bad when I’m playing. The swing is good, throwing good, catching good. That’s always a plus. They don’t want me to hit, I’ll work on my defense.”
“I think that’s a logical question,” Roberts said. “I think if you look at his at-bats this spring, he hasn’t had many. To get him back in a major league game, optimistically by Monday, you’re up against the calendar. That’s not considering any other setbacks.”
Last year, Grandal injured his left shoulder in early August in another foul ball incident, which prompted the offseason surgery. Before the injury, he was hitting .295/.400/.513 with 15 home runs in 84 games, but as his shoulder worsened he was just 6-for-94 (.064) with one home run in 31 games the rest of the regular season.
Still valued for his defense and pitch framing skills, Grandal started three of the five games in the 2015 NLDS despite the severe pain. He went 1-for-10 with a walk and six strikeouts, with his one hit being a two-run single in Game 3.
Should Grandal not be ready to go by Opening Day, 26-year old Austin Barnes will be poised to contribute in whatever capacity necessary.
Barnes, already being considered for a spot on the 25-man roster before the news of Grandal’s possible absence, is hitting .250/.372/.583 with four home runs and eight RBI over 43 plate appearances this spring.
Known for his superior catching mechanics and a very competent bat, Barnes made his MLB debut last season, filling in behind the dish for both Grandal and A.J. Ellis over several small stretches, having appeared in 20 games total.
Barnes also has the ability to provide cover at second base if needed, as has recently been fielding ground balls at third.