HOUSTON – For the most part, the White Sox are a team made up of a number of young players developed in their system with a few veterans here and there.
Hence playoff experience among the group tends to be on the lighter end, with a number of the players brought up through the system experiencing the postseason for a second time. In many ways, the American League Division Series against the Astros could be categorized as their first, since the 2020 Wild Card Series in Oakland featured an empty stadium after a 60-game pandemic-shortened season.
Yet there are others on the roster who have been there and done that, over and over again, and you can put Yasmani Grandal into that category.
“The postseason, it’s a different animal,” said the veteran catcher, and he should know.
He’s appeared in the playoffs for the last seven seasons, starting out first with the Dodgers in 2015 and continuing with that team through 2018. Grandal joined the Brewers in 2019 and helped them to the postseason, where they lost to the eventual World Series champion Nationals in the Wild Card Game in Washington.
During that time, Grandal has played in 36 postseason games, had 110 plate appearances, while appearing in the World Series in 2017 and 2018 in Los Angeles. He made the start in all three of the White Sox games with the Athletics in the Wild Card Series in 2020, but these playoffs won’t be anything like that.
“This year is completely different. You’re going to go into a stadium that can get pretty rowdy, which I love,” said Grandal.
His hitting hasn’t been what he might have liked, sporting a slash line of .125/.294/.307 with five homers and 12 RBI. Grandal did hit a pair of homers in last year’s Wild Card with four RBI and comes into the postseason after a regular season in which he hit .240/.420/.520 with 23 homers and 62 RBI.
Now he’ll be one of the leaders for the White Sox as they enter Minute Maid Park for Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday against the Astros. Grandal has a few memories of the venue’s atmosphere, having played in three World Series games in Houston in 2017.
“When we were playing there in the World Series, the atmosphere was awesome. I’m hoping that they do the same thing this year, so you’ve just got to block that out and play your game,” said Grandal. “Hopefully, they understand to some sort of degree what they’re going into, but if they don’t, let them experience it on their own, and see what happens.”
He did the same for the first time seven years ago, and he continues to have the opportunity ever since.