(670 The Score) Watching star closer Liam Hendriks help lead the Athletics past the White Sox in the wild-card round last season left a big impression on many within Chicago’s organization.
One of those who got a firsthand experience of how tough Hendriks can be was White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal, who’s now working with Hendriks after the latter joined Chicago on a three-year, $54-million deal in free agency. They got to work Wednesday as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, and Grandal already had a tip for Hendriks, whom Grandal homered off of late in Game 2 of the wild-card round series that the Athletics won in three games.
“It was fun throwing to Yas and saying hello,” Hendriks said. “He told me I was tipping my pitches on the home run he hit off of me (last fall). That was fun. I guess that was the most productive home run I ever gave up.”
Grandal caught Hendriks in a side session Wednesday, and the experience was something new for Hendriks.
"It was nerve-racking because not only was I throwing to Yas, but there were about 75 people watching, which is what I guess they (the baseball staff) do around here,” Hendriks said with a laugh.
Hendriks was impressed with Grandal’s catching ability.
"He caught everything well,” Hendriks said. “That for a pitcher makes you feel your stuff isn't quite there yet. That wasn't ideal either. But I was excited to throw to him and see the way he sets up. It was a learning game for both of us. He caught well. I only hit him in the mask once -- that was with a curveball that bounced in the dirt. I am looking forward to working with him on a day-in, day-out basis."
Hendriks is a ball of energy who’s never afraid to challenge hitters. He had a 1.78 ERA and struck out 13.1 batters per nine innings last season. Grandal is happy to help him get acclimated in any way he can.
"I was excited to catch him,” Grandal said. “You want to have him out there, and you know if you need him for five innings, he will give it to you. A guy like that is rare.
"The fact we were able to get him over here is great for us. His first bullpen was fine. He looks good, and it doesn't seem like he has skipped a beat. I will be excited to see him in game mode when things get started.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.