With a new front office regime in place, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster underwent sweeping changes over the course of the offseason. Generally viewed as their biggest move, the Dodgers packaged a resurgent and fan-favorite Matt Kemp with Tim Federowicz to the San Diego Padres for Yasmani Grandal and two pitching prospects.
At 26 years old, Grandal not only represents a younger option at catcher than A.J. Ellis, but he’s also superior in pitch framing and as a switch-hitter, offers additional versatility. However, where Grandal trails Ellis is in familiarity with the pitching staff and organization as a whole.
However, it may not be long before Grandal grows comfortable with the pitchers as his work ethic was among the traits Steve Yeager praised, via Lyle Spencer of MLB.com:
I like what I see and what I hear from him,” Yeager said. “It takes time to gain the respect of the pitching staff and teammates whenever a catcher comes from somewhere else, but some of them already know him. In the old Dodger tradition, we’ve welcomed him with open arms. He has come in with a good attitude; you don’t have to go looking for him. He’s right there, ready to go to work.”
Including a live bullpen session on Saturday, Grandal’s caught Clayton Kershaw on multiple occasions, among other pitchers. Grandal believes he’s already learned from those he’s catching and will continue to do so:
In a short time,” Grandal said, “I’ve already learned a lot. Getting to know the guys, catching bullpens, I’m getting a feel for how they throw. Everything comes with time. Once the games start [on Wednesday], it’ll definitely come a little faster.
While manager Don Mattingly has yet to decide on the details, Ellis and Grandal will form a platoon behind the plate. The general consensus predicts Ellis will handle Kershaw’s starts, which Mattingly denied but was a notion Grandal supported. No matter how the situation ultimately shakes out, the Dodgers figure to have their most formidable catching option(s) since the Russell Martin era.
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