This season the Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to deploy a catching tandem, which will end A.J. Ellis’ reign as the club’s lone starter.
At 26 years old, Yasmani Grandal figures to be the Dodgers’ primary catcher moving forward and on Friday, he offered a glimpse into what that may entail. With the Dodgers facing the Cleveland Indians and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, Grandal gave the Dodgers an early lead an RBI single up the middle.
Then in the fourth inning, Grandal hit an opposite field home run to break a 1-1 tie. Grandal’s final at-bat of the day came in sixth inning with a runner on second base. He again went the other way with an RBI double to left-center field that nearly cleared the fence.
Following the tie, Grandal said he placed an emphasis on effectively hitting the ball to the opposite field. “I’ve always felt like I could drive the ball the other way, and this offseason I worked on that a lot,” he said. Grandal also added hitting to the opposite field with power was something he looked to accomplish.
Manager Don Mattingly wasn’t surprised at the success his catcher had, citing the Dodgers’ struggles against Grandal last season. “It’s a lot of what we saw late in the year last year,” he said. “From that left side last year, we had trouble getting him out.”
Last season, Grandal hit .241/.329/.452 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs when batting left-handed. Conversely, he only hit .162/.323/.189 with six RBIs as a right-handed batter. When considering Ellis fared better against lefties last season, the Dodgers natural plan of attack figures to have Ellis starting with a left-hander on the mound and Grandal in to face right-handers.
Yasmani Grandal Discusses Learning From A.J. Ellis