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Yasmani Grandal made his first playoff appearance in 2015.
The catcher has been an October fixture ever since.
Grandal will be participating in his seventh consecutive postseason when the Chicago White Sox face the Houston Astros in an American League Division Series. Game 1 is on Thursday in Houston.
“Postseason, it’s a different animal,” Grandal said during a conference call Tuesday. “I’ve been on the highs and I’ve been on the lows. All you can do is just learn from it. I get very excited for the postseason. I love the atmosphere. I love fans screaming at you, especially when you’re on the opposing side.
“That’s why I get excited. As you (reporters) ask me these questions, I just think about things I’ve gone through in the postseason, all the good and the bad, and it brings a smile to my face.”
Grandal has five home runs and 12 RBIs in 36 postseason games with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2015-18), Milwaukee Brewers (2019) and Sox (2020).
“Longevity counts,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “And seven is a lot. When they are consecutive, it counts even more. Not only has he been a contributor but he’s learned. He’s bringing that to our guys.”
Grandal had a .200/.429/.800 slash line with two home runs and four RBIs for the Sox in the 2020 AL wild-card series against the Oakland Athletics.
The Sox lost that series in three games. Grandal said time will tell what the Sox learned from the experience.
“Last year was the first postseason where there was nobody in the stands (because of COVID-19 protocols),” Grandal said. “This year is completely different. You’re going to go into a stadium that can get pretty rowdy, which I love. I loved when we were playing there in the (2017) World Series. The atmosphere was awesome.
“I’m hoping they do the same thing this year. You’ve just got to block that out and play your game. 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.”
Grandal has been a vital part of the Sox offense. He hit 23 home runs this season, second-most on the team, despite being on the injured list from July 6 to Aug. 27 with a torn left knee tendon. He hit two three-run home runs and had eight RBIs in his return against the Chicago Cubs.
Grandal finished fifth in the AL with 87 walks, and his .420 on-base percentage would have led the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
He’s part of a Sox lineup that is as healthy and loaded as it has been all season. But the Astros lineup is also deep and talented.
“It’s a fact that they’ve had a lot of experience in the playoffs and they’ve made deep runs as we’ve seen in the past, and that goes a long way,” Grandal said. “You’re not going to intimidate a team like that, you’re not going to put pressure on a team like that. I’ve been on teams that had deep runs in the postseason and I know exactly what goes on.
“All they’re waiting for is for you to make a mistake and they’re going to take over. All you have to do is play your game and allow them to almost sit back and wait for you to make a mistake, and hopefully they make the mistake before we do.”