Finger injury kept Grandal from hitting all winter

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Suspended Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal revealed Sunday that he hasn't picked up a bat all winter, the result of two inflamed tendons in his left middle finger.

Grandal, who will miss the first 50 games of the season for testing positive for testosterone, will hit for the first time Monday on a practice field.

"I've been looking forward to tomorrow for a long time," he said.

Grandal, a switch-hitter, said he suffered the injury toward the end of the 2012 season against Arizona on a swing. But he also feels there could have been some damage done dating back to the Arizona Fall League in 2011 when he injured the finger.

"It wasn't that bad at first, but then it got worse and worse," Grandal said. "I finished the season hitting with one hand, basically. I think I could have done a lot better had it not been hurt."

Grandal said the finger only really hurt him while hitting left-handed, as the left hand is the dominant hand in the swing. Hitting right-handed, the left hand is more of a guide, used for direction.

Grandal hit .297 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 60 games after a promotion from Triple-A Tucson.

This offseason, Grandal was told surgery was a distinct possibility, though four to six months of rest could remedy the issue. That meant no hitting at all, although he was able to work on the defensive side of his game.

After he moved to Phoenix from Miami, Grandal placed a call to Padres special assistant and former Major League catcher Brad Ausmus. Ausmus recommended Triple-A manager Pat Murphy to work with Grandal on his catching skills.

On Saturday, Padres manager Bud Black said Grandal would be used in Spring Training games, though the two catchers projected to make the Opening Day roster -- Nick Hundley and John Baker -- will see most of the playing time in games.

Grandal will play in games once his bat is game-ready. When the team breaks camp in late March, he'll remain in Peoria and play in extended Spring Training games.

His manager can already tell how eager Grandal is to start hitting again.

"He wanted to hit on the field a month ago, but we had to hold him back," Black said. "Players want to play."

Under terms of his suspension, Grandal's eligible to begin a Minor League stint lasting no more than 10 days and that will likely occur in May. He will be eligible to rejoin the Padres on May 28 when the team is in Seattle.

"We've had a plan for a long time. My plan is going to be the same -- just get ready for the season," Grandal said.

On Saturday, Grandal spoke to reporters for the first time since his suspension on Nov. 7 for use of a performance-enhancing drug, reading a prepared statement. He also apologized to teammates in a closed-door meeting in the morning.

"I think more than anything, he apologized for what this did to our group," Black said. "He needs to continue making amends moving forward. This is part of what he wanted to do."

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