Grandal, Kendrick Preparing for Dodgers’ Home Opener

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(Photo Credit: EFE)

After battling nagging injuries that left them off the Opening Day roster, Yasmani Grandal and Howie Kendrick have begun their respective rehab assignments, and barring any major setbacks, expect to be part of the Dodgers’ 25-man roster for the home opener against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

Both players took part in minor league action on Thursday night. Kendrick appeared as the designated hitter for High-A Rancho Cucamonga at Lake Elsinore, while Grandal caught seven innings for Oklahoma City in Nashville.

Kendrick went 0-for-3 with an infield ground out and two strikeouts, and was hit by a pitch. After being hit, he unsuccessfully tried to steal second base, but still appeared to run well. The Storm ultimately defeated the Quakes in the opener, 4-2. Kendrick is also expected to play the final three games of the series, making one start at third base and the last two at the keystone.

Grandal went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a sacrifice fly in the OKC opener. He called an excellent game for Zach Lee, who allowed only three hits and no walks over six innings, as Oklahoma City blanked the Sounds, 5-0. Grandal is expected to catch righty starter Jharel Cotton Friday night.

Kendrick is recovering from an aggravated calf muscle that originated in a contest against the Royals on March 22. He additionally missed time earlier in camp with a strained groin, which combined with the calf issue, left the second baseman with only 23 total at-bats in 2016 Cactus League play.

Having battled hamstring issues towards the end of last season, Kendrick was still able to post solid overall numbers for the Dodgers in 2015. He slashed .295/.336/.409, commensurate with his career line of .293/.333/.423. With runners in scoring position last year, he hit .360/.398/.480 with six doubles and two home runs in 109 plate appearances.

Grandal has been fighting off soreness in his right forearm since early March, which was made worse when he fouled a ball off his upper arm in a Cactus League game against the Mariners on March 21. He claimed 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.

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.

With both disabled list stints being retroactive to March 25, Grandal and Kendrick will presumably be added to the Dodgers’ 25-man roster before Tuesday’s home opener. Charlie Culberson, Austin Barnes and Trayce Thompson are among the early names being surfaced as possibilities of being optioned to Triple-A to create roster space.

Kendrick may start at second or third base in Tuesday’s game, depending on the prospective pitching matchup or if any infielders are scheduled for a day of rest.

Manager Dave Roberts has already decided that A.J. Ellis will catch Kenta Maeda on Tuesday. Grandal’s first start of the season could come Wednesday, with Alex Wood scheduled to take the mound for the Dodgers.

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