Yasmani Grandal plays in first game since July

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — In his first plate appearance since July 6, Yasmani Grandal wasted no time. The first pitch he saw, a fastball up and in, was redirected through the middle for a seventh-inning single.

His first appearance behind the plate, also since July 6, arrived in the bottom of the inning. Almost immediately, the Rockies challenged the Padres catcher.
Grandal was up to it. With two outs, Rosell Herrera took off from first. The would-be base-stealer slid into second but was met with a tag.

Inning over. Return begun, officially.

Indeed, Monday was one of great consequence for Grandal, a little more than eight months after he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, and barely seven months after he underwent reconstructive surgery.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Grandal said after the game. “This is what I’ve been working for since day one. Just seeing the results, seeing how I feel, means we did a good job in the offseason. Everybody I worked with did a great job with me.”

Rene Rivera started and played the first six innings of the Padres’ 5-0 shutout of Colorado. Grandal closed it out from there. Besides his single, he grounded out in his other at-bat.

Saturday, Grandal caught three innings in a simulated game. It was a major step. The next arrived Monday.

“He bounced back great from Saturday,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “There’s still a process with Yazi as we move forward. He still has to build endurance and stamina, but it’s good to see in a real game. It’s a different type of intensity and emotion, and he handled it very well today.”

The steps after Monday will include catching more innings, building up to a full nine, and then on back-to-back days. While Opening Day remains a possibility for Grandal, the build-up will remain gradual.

“It’s a process, and I understand the process,” Grandal said. “It’s a process that’s going to benefit me in the future, and that’s what we’re looking forward to. I want to be here in the playoffs. I want to be here during the season, but the playoffs is what counts.”

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