The Los Angeles Dodgers received plenty of praise for their front office and roster makeover during the offseason. However, Zack Greinke was not among them. He wondered if the Dodgers won 94 games a second straight National League West division title in 2014, how much could they have improved?
Of the new faces to join the team this season, Yasmani Grandal arguably comes with the most intrigue. At 26 years old, he excels in pitch framing and figures to get the bulk of the starts behind the plate moving forward.
One exception of course likely being when Clayton Kershaw is on the mound. Such was the case on Opening Day when A.J. Ellis got the nod at catcher. Grandal didn’t have to wait long to make his 2015 debut with the Dodgers as he was in the lineup the following night (Tuesday) against his former team.
Grandal formed the battery with Zack Greinke, who threw six innings and allowed just one run — on a Carl Crawford misplay in the first inning. Greinke at one point retired 12 consecutive batters before walking Matt Kemp in the sixth inning to end the streak.
While the Dodgers wound up losing to their division opponent, Greinke couldn’t say enough about Grandal. “He’s been unbelievable back there,” Greinke said after acknowledging he isn’t one to dole out consistent praise.
“His catching is better than advertised, and working with me individually, he’s been as good as you could expect. I don’t think, from what I’ve seen so far, you could ever have expected anything more.”
“He’s done everything. His hands are great. He’s blocked everything I’ve thrown. People stole on him last year, but he’s had some really good throws in games I’ve thrown in spring training. And then his game calling’s been good. I couldn’t draw up a better catcher at the moment.”
Grandal remained in Arizona when most players returned to Los Angeles so that he could catch Greinke’s final game of the spring, which was on the Minor League side of the Dodgers’ Camelback Ranch complex.
Of Greinke’s four Cactus League starts this year, Grandal caught half of them. The former San Diego Padres backstop arrived in Los Angeles with somewhat of a checkered past due to a PED suspension after the 2012 season and rumblings of Padres pitchers preferring to work with Rene Rivera.