White Sox

Joe Kelly helped Grandal amid disastrous, dark season


Amidst a dark, injury-ridden, powerless season for White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal, he made a habit of falling into an abyss of frustration and emotion during the season. 

The veteran catcher strained his hamstring running to first in early June, injured his knee from a collision at home plate in August and pushed off surgery on his back to stay on the field.

He experienced an overdose of pain and frustration last season. And the emotions got the best of him, sometimes following him off the field.  

“It definitely came out in bad ways. I tend to go into this dark hole," Grandal told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien on the White Sox Talk podcast. "My wife can notice it. I’ll get home and I’m not talking to anybody. I get to the field and I’m not talking to anybody and I’m on the constant go."

His teammates caught onto Grandal's consistently depressing demeanor around the clubhouse.

"They know when to come and when to go," Grandal said.

But, one teammate of his couldn't help but try –  and succeed –  in uplifting Grandal. Despite the silence and pushing others away from his darkness, one teammate stepped in and cheered him up. 

"If it wasn't for Joe Kelly, I think my season would have been a little bit worse," Grandal said. "He would come in every day and just make me laugh. Even when I didn't feel like that. For that, I love him. I really appreciate him."

Grandal mentioned Kelly called him recently and sent him a funny video that he "can't really say" what the video was. The veteran relief pitcher helped Grandal keep his sanity amid a disastrous season. 

RELATED: Yasmani Grandal opens up about nightmare 2022 season

Grandal lost a tremendous amount of power at the plate due to several injuries he endured. He sent just five balls out of the park compared to the 22 he destroyed the previous season.

According to Baseball Savant, his average exit velocity (EV) in 2021 was 93.1 mph, which placed him in the 96th percentile of the league's players for EV. In 2022, his average exit velocity dropped to 90 mph, dropping him to the 69th percentile. 

Now, he believes his back is stronger and he's regaining the strength and power he possessed before injuries took hold of his ability to hit the ball with power. 

It's a massive mental and physical task to overcome.

"I'm looking at myself for all the failures that we had and how I can change that," Grandal said. "So, for me, it was extra frustrating. That's why I was saying patience is the way to go."

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