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Yasmani Grandal confident, but taking long-term view with Dodgers

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has been battling forearm soreness this spring and even though he is confident he could be ready by opening day, he's okay with opening the season on the disabled list in order to be 100 percent when he returns.

"I'll be fine even if I don't start the first week of the season," Grandal said. "I know they're trying to make sure that it doesn't come back at all during the season. I'm not really worried about it."

Grandal made more progress on Wednesday, catching the bullpen session of Hyun-jin Ryu, and took batting practice on the field, batting both left- and right-handed.

"Yasmani is going to do more today, and I'm still hopeful he'll be ready for opening day," manager Dave Roberts said Wednesday. "If he passes tests today he'll play in a minor league game [Thursday]."

This was after days of being shut down from hitting or throwing, two skills vital to his professional well-being. In the interim Grandal would catch bullpen sessions but would flip the ball to a coach or another catcher to throw it back to the pitcher. Throughout the spring, Grandal has still been able to catch, with receiving one of his greatest strengths.

"Me thinking I'm not ready to catch, that would be bad," he said.

Grandal was one of the best overall catchers in baseball in 2015, both at and behind the plate, but a shoulder injury in early August sapped his power the rest of the season and would require surgery in October. But Grandal was still able to catch, which was a big reason why he started 28 of the final 54 games of the season despite ending the year in a horrific 6-for-94 slump.

Trying to avoid that same fate in 2016, the tentative plan for Grandal, who last played in a Cactus League game on March 21, is to join the Dodgers on Saturday and possibly play against the Angels in Anaheim and be activated for the opening day roster.

But no matter how ready Grandal is, A.J. Ellis is going to catch Clayton Kershaw on Monday, and chances are Grandal would have received one of the next four games off as well. As it stands, starting Grandal on the disabled list could mean missing as few as five games since the club can back date the DL stint to March 25 if Grandal doesn't play in any major league spring games between now and then.

And since Grandal would likely miss at least two of the first five games anyway a DL stint would really only cost him three starts, all while giving him an extra week to be fully ready and healthy.

"Even if we had to stay here on Sunday and not even go to the Freeway Series, just to make sure we're good," Grandal said. "The one thing you don't want to start the season on April 4, play a couple days, then all of a sudden it comes back and you lose more."

Playing in a game Saturday in Anaheim for instance would mean the Dodgers could only back date a DL stint if needed to Sunday, meaning the earliest Grandal could be activated would be April 17.

It is a more mature outlook by Grandal, who admitted that wouldn't have been his approach in earlier years.

"The worst feeling was not breaking camp. Whether you're on the DL or going to the minors, no matter who you are you want to break camp with the big league team," Grandal recalled. "If I was younger I would have said, 'We have to get this show on the road'."