Back injury derailed Yasmani Grandal’s 2022 for good

For multiple reasons, there was never a particular reason to think a White Sox-James McCann reunion was in the cards.

Most of the doubt stemmed from the White Sox having multiple valid league-minimum backup catcher options in Seby Zavala and Carlos Perez, while McCann hit .220/.282/.328 in his two seasons for the Mets, with two years and $24.25 million left to go. But even if McCann somehow represented a superior or more stable option behind the plate than any White Sox incumbent, we learned on Wednesday evening that he placed the White Sox on his limited no-trade list.

One wonders whether that’s more about McCann setting that list when he could dictate the terms of his talent. It’s understandable that a McCann at the top of his game would have little interest in going back to the team that relegated him to backup duty after a career year. Smash-cut to two years later when McCann’s being kicked to the curb, and perhaps he’d waive the no-trade protection if the White Sox truly presented the best opportunity. Or maybe he secretly loathed Lucas Giolito and never wishes him to succeed at scale again.

It’s all moot, because the Mets traded McCann to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later, picking up $19 million of the money remaining.

(Meanwhile, the Mets took a former White Sox after leaving a former White Sox by signing Danny Mendick to a one-year, $1 million contract, so they will probably be moving an infielder at some point.)

Speaking of catchers coming off their worst seasons, Chuck Garfien interviewed Yasmani Grandal on the latest episode of the White Sox Talk Podcast, and Grandal was quite candid about his injuries, and the frustration that stemmed from the overall inability to get it going at the individual and team levels.

While Grandal dealt with knee problems early in the season, he said the back problems that started in mid-June dealt his season a death blow.

“I don’t think too many people understand what it’s like to have a dead leg. When I hurt my back last year, both of my discs bulged and went completely out,” Grandal said. “I was running down to first base against Texas (on June 11). I had a really good game the day before. A really good game the day before that. I was feeling really good at the plate. Running to first, I was like, ‘My hamstring went.’ I kind of slipped when I came out of the box. A day later, I can’t even get out of bed.”

Grandal said he could’ve underwent back surgery that knocked him out for six weeks, but he thought he needed to give the team what he could. The problem was that his capacities were severely limited by the lack of a base, which Grandal admits now. At the time, he said that a lack of regular playing time behind the plate had hampered his rhythm.

He also admits that professional pride drove his decision to avoid surgery.

“The doctor told me we can do the surgery and it takes ten minutes. It’s just a small incision,” Grandal said. “I felt like I needed to get back to my team and help them out. That’s just the mentality that I had at the time.”

Grandal’s desire to play and reluctance to undergo a procedure that may be unnecessary are understandable, but there’s never been a satisfactory answer as to why so many players were able to dictate the terms of their playing times while physically unable to perform.

What’s weird is that Grandal didn’t really get back to the field much quicker without an operation. He missed six weeks either way, and everybody would’ve been better off had he missed eight, because then Rick Hahn wouldn’t have been inspired to trade Reese McGuire for Jake Diekman.

Grandal sounds sincere and motivated about the road ahead, but this is the second at-length description of his offseason program. Any pounds of muscle story will tell you that the more somebody has to talk about what they’re doing to improve, the more they desperately need that improvement to be a viable MLB player. A catcher managing a back issue would seem to have a tougher hill to climb.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Uh, a back injury makes me a lot less sanguine about his prospects for a bounceback…

As Cirensica

I still remember McEwing sending Grandal from 2B on a soft hit. He was out by 1 light year while he limped his way to home plate in one of the worst health/situational awareness episodes under La Russa. I really hope Grifol is keen into seeing who is hurting, and deal with it properly.

Augusto Barojas

Not sure about McCann’s reasons specifically, but not hard to see how the cheapness of this ownership and the embarrassing weirdness of allowing TLR to manage for 2 ridiculous years would be how the White Sox wind up on some players “no trade” lists.

Jerry’s reputation precedes him.


If lack of spending is the reason he blocked the Sox as you surmise, then surely Baltimore was not among the clubs on his limited no-trade clause.


What I’m getting at is this: basically every single article Jim publishes could elicit some comment along the lines of: “Jerry is cheap and the Sox are going nowhere”. Which, yes, i often feel that way and feel like bellowing “sell the team” from a mountain top.

I just don’t find it to be particularly appropriate in the context of James McCann listing the Sox among teams he will block a trade to, while we simultaneously have no idea whether a trade was even on the table, and see him end up with the mighty spending Orioles


I think the more likely scenario is as Jim alluded to, he could’ve held a grudge because immediately after his career year, the Sox prioritized catcher and signed Grandal to a franchise record contract which resulted in him immediately being demoted to backup catcher.


Correct. This is also fun, because this means that a lack of “cheapness of this ownership” would be the reason the White Sox were on his no-trade list. The cheap thing to do then would have been to roll with McCann in place, coming off a good year, rather than signing Grandal. It was one of the rare times when I thought they were aggressively proactive, rather than being satisfied with “good enough.”


I’ve seen agents advise clients to put teams like the Yankees on no trade lists in order to use it as leverage if a trade scenario would arise. We shouldn’t read into no trade clauses as we simply have no way of knowing the thought process


Imagine a coaching staff so bad they sent grandal out there at C and Dh with 2 herniated discs and heck Robert was out there for weeks swinging with one hand. There is tough and then there is stupid and its a group effort to mess everything up this bad. Its on the trainers, its on the coaches and its on the front office for not building depth that guys think they are the best options even when they are playing at an extremely diminished capacity.

As Cirensica

Well…we had a manager that literal fell asleep during games. That speaks volume.


It’s also on the players. I am 100% stating that the coaches and trainers are more blameworthy for the mismanagement. But there does exist a world in which an athlete him/herself can reconcile the fact that they aren’t able to perform or are inadequately performing due to injury status, and take their butts off the field. Ballplayers are sentient beings.

Torpedo Jones

For sure. Getting to the highest level of any sport means not missing time due to injuries and trying to play through injuries – it’s human nature not to want to miss an opportunity to shine. Plus there’s that whole notion of demonstrating old-school traits like “grit”, “determination”, and (for you 4-D chess nerds) TWTW.

It’s a hard call to make, but a leader needs to step in if a team member is not able to perform and tries to press on. A coach has to sometimes protect an employee or player from their own poor decision-making. And in many cases, playing through an injury leads to worsened performance which ultimately impacts the team.


How do you think, No Skip, I can’t go today and probably not this week, was going to go over with The Russa?

Trooper Galactus

Probably pretty well since it would give him another excuse to put Leury in the lineup.


I put it mostly on the FO as they manage who’s on the roster and who’s on IR but really it’s more about the total disfunction that existed between the FO and the coaching staff.

Alfornia Jones

It’s totally bizarre and also tone deaf for a team with no common PR sense. Grandal is blatantly telling a local media that he should not have been playing, but he forced his way on to the field with a serious injury. Grandal has a pretty violent swing when he is going good, and bending down and kneeling for 150 pitches also doesn’t sound like good treatment for two herniated discs.

This is all on the team FO and coaching staff. Two herniated discs sounds like an easy insurance claim for your most expensive player, who clearly can’t play. I know its not dollar for dollar return, but competent organizations place the guy on the 60 day IL, especially when they had a decent platoon situation working in his place. Regardless if he had opted for the surgery, they still get the insurance claim due to the serious nature.


Perhaps I read too quickly, but my takeaway from the article was that Grandal was fucking stupid,.


As was the front office, training and conditioning staff, and manager and coaches.


Glass half full: Great, there was a reason Grandal struggled so much, so he can heal up and bounce back in 2023.

Glass half empty: A catcher going into his age 34 year season had (at least) knee, back, and hamstring issues last year.


I’m fully expecting BSOHL stories to be writted about over half the roster by the end of spring training.


White Sox acquiring Gregory Santos


Emergency podcast?

Torpedo Jones

MLB Trade Rumors reporting that Kade “Troy” McClure is heading to the Giants. As the owner of a bloated collection of McClure autographed cards, I’m not sure how to feel about it….


Awww, we have to switch the Simpsons jokes from Troy McClure to Santos L. Halper.

As Cirensica





70 grade fastball and slider. Served an 80-game suspension for PEDs. Katz should know him. Control has been his issue. It’s a good gamble.


Actually encouraged by the degree of proactivity Hahn has shown towards addressing bullpen depth this offseason with the Avila acquisition and this one. Throwing money at the issue hasn’t insured the FO from having to shop for relievers at the deadline (with pretty poor outcomes).


So Jim, when you saw Lucas Giolito with pounds of muscle, did you know what’s gonna happen?


Grandal made the correct decision by avoiding surgery. I work in this field, and the outcome statistics for herniated disk surgeries are not impressive. Much better to go with a conservative approach of physical therapy. With proper treatment, exercise and appropriate body mechanics, he should have this behind him about 6 months from when it began. (That’s also how long it took me to recover from the same injury 12 years ago. I haven’t had a recurrence but I’m also not a professional athlete.)

Bonus Baby

You win the “comment that made me most hopeful today” award. Much appreciated.


1. Expecting Grandal to play even 80 games behind the plate is a pipe dream. I hope Seby has been working hard this offseason.

2. It’s funny that McCann didn’t want to come back here after previously choosing to come here and playing the best baseball of his career. Oh well, at least it made him a ton of money.

3. I can’t believe we had to let Mendick walk but we’re stuck with Leury.


1. I sure would like you to be wrong on that one….where’s my hopium pipe?

2.Watching the shit show unfold before your very eyes can have that effect, I suppose.

3.I know, right?

Bonus Baby

So many pipe dreams on this site. I might want to start a catalog of pipe dreams for posterity:

–Grandal playing 80 games at C
–the Sox finishing with as high as 88-89 wins (which I remember from a while back, though now with the Benintendi signing maybe I should raise the pipe dream a little here)

Maybe I can also keep a record of the worst/best projected record for the current team. I recall 75 wins without Hendriks.

Last edited 3 months ago by Bonus Baby

Rabble rabble!

It seems nothing is ever positive here.

Benintendi was a good signing, Aaron judge or Harper level? No, but good. Trading Hendriks while he has a ton of value for a second basemen/outfielder/prospects, etc would be great, we have a ton of bullpen guys, surely someone will be found to close. Let’s maximize value while we have it.

Bonus Baby


And in more snide spreading of positivity, I looked up current betting odds, and it looks like the Sox are now tied with 3 other teams (Guardians, Cards, and Jays) at 10th likeliest to win the WS. Guardians and Sox both at 12-1 to win the American League.

As Cirensica

#3…oh my…#3!!!


I really enjoyed the interview. Grandal comes as off as a guy who genuinely cares about his play and winning. I don’t know if I’d equate it with the best shape of his life arguments though. Yas said that he looked in the mirror in 2015 and said we need to change something, since then he’s been at this 7 days a week conditioning. Last year, the knee surgery prevented it though. So I would say it’s more, he’s getting back to where he’s used to be being.

I agree with those blaming the front office for this. I have so many questions of what the heck was going on. Like when Hahn talked of the trainers advice for players to only go half speed in certain situations and not all the time. How does that not get cleared up after one series? Wouldn’t you at least ask why they are allowing singles to doubles after the cubs series where the cubs did it at will? How do the players dictate their IL stints when you can see they’re clearly injured? So many questions…


Your answer, Sir….The Russa


Catching is a young man’s position and it eventually destroys everyone’s knees. If he can play 50 games then the Sox are stuck with YG for one more year because of the contract. Lets hope he hits a little bit. The real bad news is Mendick going to the Mets. I though for sure he’d be the starter at second until one of the three minor leaguers showed they were better.

Trooper Galactus

When did we get Yan Gomes?