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Return performance a success for Grandal

Return performance a success for Grandal

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Not a bad spring debut for Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, who played in his first game since July 6 of last season.

Grandal, coming off arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last August, had a single in his first at-bat, while also catching the final three innings of the Padres' 5-0 victory over the Rockies at Salt River Fields.

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"I have been waiting for this moment for a long time," Grandal said. "This is what I've been working for since Day 1. Just seeing the results, seeing how I feel, it means that we did a good job in the offseason ... everyone I worked with did a good job."

Grandal had one hit in two at-bats and even threw out a would-be base stealer in his debut.

Grandal entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh inning and immediately bounced a first-pitch fastball up the middle and into center field off Rockies' pitcher Wilton Lopez. He grounded out in his final at-bat.

In the bottom of the inning, Grandal threw out Rosell Herrera trying to steal second base. The throw beat Herrera by so much that he didn't even bother sliding.

Grandal caught three innings of a simulated game Saturday and was given Sunday off. He wasn't on the original lineup card on Monday morning, but manager Bud Black pulled him aside and told him that he would play against the Rockies.

Black had previously stated that Grandal was ahead of schedule in terms of his rehabilitation, though he hadn't reached the point of being game-ready before Monday. The Padres are still being cautious in terms of Grandal's knee, and Black was hesitant to say if he'll be ready for Opening Day on March 30.

But all agreed that Monday's appearance was a good sign.

"It's still a process with Yazzy; he still has to build his stamina and endurance back," Black.

Grandal sustained the knee injury in a nasty collision at the plate in road game against the Nationals on July 6. He had surgery a month later and during the final month of the season, just after he started his rehabilitation program, he professed that he would be ready for Opening Day.

He still might.

"I'd rather keep playing, but it's a process and I understand the process," Grandal said. "It's going to benefit me in the future. That's what we're looking forward to."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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