Yasmani Grandal was in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup Thursday night for just the third time in the past six games. Some of his time missed was due to the Dodgers facing a left-handed starter. But Grandal is also nursing a sore right elbow.
Revelation of the injury certainly explained Grandal’s .189/.204/.434 batting line through 16 games (13 starts) this month. Though, for at least one night, he laid the concern to rest behind an offensive outburst against the Colorado Rockies.
Grandal’s big night began in the second inning with a solo home run that cut the Dodgers’ deficit to 3-1. He singled in the fourth inning, and doubled in the sixth.
The true fireworks then came in the seventh, with Grandal, batting right-handed, hit a grand slam to cap a five-run inning and give the Dodgers a decided 7-4 lead.
“Obviously, Yasmani has had some struggles against left-handed pitching, but to grind out an at-bat and put us ahead with that grand slam, what a night he had,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
“We’re going to need him going forward.” Television cameras caught the rookie manager’s emotional reaction and celebration to Grandal’s blast. “I think I kept my emotions in check,” Roberts quipped. He pointed to Grandal coming out of the strike zone as a reason for his struggles, and not just the sore elbow.
It’s a sentiment the 27-year-old also shared. “Most of [September struggles] were probably me going out of the zone, not staying with my approach. You try to overcompensate because you think you can’t get to a pitch,” Grandal said.
“Because your elbow is doing this or that, and you are missing pitches you think you should hit. Now that we’re good and healthy and ready to go, we have to turn it up. I think we have what, nine games left? Let’s get this thing over, let’s clinch this. Let’s win the division and keep on playing. Get your rest and let’s do this.”
As for hitting the grand slam right-handed, Grandal reiterated the importance of remaining within himself. “I feel like it’s just staying with your approach. Knowing your weaknesses and strengths from one side to the other, what you can and can’t do,” he explained.
Not many details have been provided on the nature of Grandal’s elbow injury. Roberts recently said it’s related to the forearm soreness that Grandal battled throughout Spring Training. He didn’t offer more clarity Thursday, but dismissed the notion of it being a serious matter.
“Obviously the elbow had been going on for a while,” Grandal said. “But not to the point where we should have stopped it or given it some rest.”
Grandal became the first Dodgers player to hit a home run from each side of the plate in a game since Orlando Hudson in 2009. With six- and five-RBI games under his belt, Grandal is the first Dodgers catcher with multiple five-RBI games in a single season since Mike Piazza in 1995.