Yasmani Grandal Aims To Improve Bat

Yasmani Grandal is happy with his defense and the way he has handled Padres pitchers since his return May 28 from serving a 50-game suspension. But his offense is not where the switch-hitting catcher thought it would be.

“I didn’t think I would be so far back with the bat,” said Grandal, who entered Wednesday night with a four-game hitting streak — including tying a franchise record with doubles in four straight games — and a run of hitting safely in 10 of his last 12 starts.

Grandal thinks his slow offensive start is a combination of the suspension — for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug testosterone — and the fact that didn’t swing a bat for almost four months after the end of last season.

Grandal finished 2012 with two inflamed tendons on the middle finger of his left hand.

“It started hurting midway through last season, and by the end of the year it was like I had arthritis,” said Grandal, who didn’t swing a bat until two weeks before spring training.

“Offensively, my offseason hitting program was lost. So I spent a lot of time in Arizona with (Tucson manager) Pat Murphy working on catching, working with pitchers, receiving pitches and throwing.

“As a catcher, defense is really the No. 1 thing. Catching is first. And my defense has been good. I prepared and did everything I could defensively. The hitting will come.”

Padres manager Bud Black shares Grandal’s assessment of the 24-year-old catcher’s defense.

“I like the way Yasmani is receiving the ball and working with pitchers,” Black said Wednesday afternoon. “He’s done a nice job defensively.”
As for his offense ...

“My stroke is not back yet,” Grandal said. “It seems and might look like it’s back, but it’s not. I am not locked in. I usually go into the batter’s box with a plan. Right now, I’m just concentrating on getting good swings.

“Everything is timing. And timing takes time. I think I’d be ahead of where I am now if I had been able to hit over the winter. I really had no preparation.”

Grandal has hit .311 (14-for-45) since June 5 after opening his season with two hits in his first 24 at-bats. Entering Wednesday night’s game, Grandal had raised his average from .083 to .232 in 15 games.

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