White Sox’ Yasmani Grandal progressing well after knee surgery

MILWAUKEE — The White Sox injury news has been awful.

Their injury recovery news?

Much better.

Word from catcher Yasmani Grandal Saturday that he is progressing well from surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left knee 17 days ago was the latest upbeat report from what has been a trainer’s room of doom and gloom this season.

Grandal said Nikhil Verma, who performed surgery, told him the fastest recovery from his procedure was three weeks, which Grandal made his goal. He knows that’s not realistic, but he is running and doing other light work and expects to be hitting and catching pitchers’ bullpen sessions soon.

“It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be,” Grandal said Saturday. “I didn’t think I was going to come back this fast. I felt like I would have way more soreness. So far, so good.”

No one with the Sox, including Grandal, is projecting a target date yet but a return by mid August seems reasonable.

“To see him move around, we never would have expected this kind of improvement,” manager Tony La Russa said. “So it’s exciting.”

It was the latest in encouraging injury news for the Sox, who have been reeling from injuries since Silver Slugger left fielder Eloy Jimenez tore his pectoral and Adam Engel tore his hamstring in spring training. Gold Glove center fielder and 2020 Rookie of the Year runnerup Luis Robert’s torn hip flexor happened in early May, and both Robert and Jimenez didn’t seem to be locks to return this season. But Jimenez is expected back as soon as next week, and Robert is playing at his minor league rehab assignment. And now Grandal, an All-Star candidate before he got hurt and the team’s highest paid player, is coming along well for a team enjoying a nine-game lead in the AL Central.

“Forget about me, just having Eloy back is huge,” Grandal said. “Seeing that Luis is on his assignment and doing good, he’s huge. You get two big bats back and the team is going to be full now. Hopefully those guys get hot at the right time. They can carry a team into the postseason.”

Jimenez is playing and swinging the bat at Charlotte like he’s ready to join the team now, and Robert, who began playing at High-A Winston-Salem Wednesday, “is moving well, running well,” La Russa said.

“So far, all positive,” La Russa said. “The initial first steps are good.”

Grandal, 32, suffered the injury during an at-bat on July 5 against the Twins in Minnesota. He spun around from the batter’s box after checking his swing and fell to the ground.

The Sox said at the time he would be out four to six weeks. When it was determined two days later Grandal would have surgery, the team said the procedure didn’t necessarily mean a longer timetable.

“I don’t look so far ahead to where hey, I want to be in uniform playing on this date,” Grandal said. “Just because of the what if. You never know what’s going to happen. I like to know what I’m doing for this week, what I’m doing this day, the next day, concentrate on that week and we’ll look ahead after that week is done.”

Grandal, whose value was noted despite a low .188 batting average, has walked 60 times to boost a .388 on-base percentage, a .436 slugging percentage, .824 OPS and 14 home runs in 63 games. He is in the second year of a four-year, $73 million contract.

With a comfortable lead, the Sox can afford to be patient with Jimenez, Robert and Grandal but there is a balance there, La Russa said.

“You’ve got to be careful, and being too patient and sending the wrong message to your team about the urgency of winning games now and keep accumulating wins,” he said. “On the flip side, you can be too concerned and risk guys before they’re ready. The balance to be the most sensible is when they’re ready, they play.”

With an eye on the prize.

“The postseason is where it counts,” Grandal said. “We want to make a deep run.”

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