White Sox' Reese McGuire catching big innings, filling important role

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‘Quick study’ McGuire filling important role for White Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Reese McGuire hasn’t been a member of the White Sox organization for a full month yet.

But it’s not hard to see the impact he’s had on the club already.

“Just a real good late spring training get by the front office because he fits well,” manager Tony La Russa said of McGuire. “He receives well, he thinks, throws, takes an at-bat.

“He's a good player.”

Backup catcher, which was a bit of a revolving door in 2021, figured to be an important role for the White Sox in 2022, certainly with their desire to keep Yasmani Grandal fresh throughout the season.

That led them to McGuire, whom they acquired from the Blue Jays days before the end of spring training.

Grandal hasn’t caught consecutive days since the first two games of the season, but that’s by design. La Russa said he’s not dealing with any issues related to the second right knee surgery he underwent last offseason.

“Whoever was going to get that job as the second catcher was going to play a lot,” La Russa said. “The fact that Reese has really been impressive, it just improves our chances to win when he plays.

“You can't run Yaz into the ground. You'd have either paid now or paid later for that.”

McGuire and Grandal have each started 11 games behind the plate this season, but McGuire's impact goes well beyond just getting Grandal time off. He’s a well-regarded backstop defensively.

“Defense has always been my calling card,” McGuire said. “I take so much pride in being back there and navigating the game through the pitch calling, and also just taking pride in keeping the ball in front of me, blocking them and throwing guys out.

“Those small details, like stealing a strike, totally change an at-bat and can totally change the momentum of the game.”

As of Monday, McGuire ranked third in framing, according to FanGraphs’ metric, among catchers who have caught at least 90 innings.

He takes pride in making an impact on that side of the game.

“I had a coach a long time ago who used to tell me,” he recalled, ‘You know, if you're 7-, 8-, 9-hole in the order for offense, you might get three at-bats at the most. If you get four, it’s a good day offensively. But you can always control 27 on the other side.’

"That's always been my mindset. Whatever happens on the offensive side, try to take care of business there. But when it comes to the defense, you've got to flip the script and get out there and compete with the guy on the mound."

McGuire had little time to settle into the White Sox gameplanning system and begin gaining rapport with the pitching staff, let alone even work with all of them, after the trade.

“That part just comes easily, I feel like,” he said. “You just communicate, and you get to know on the fly as you go out there and compete together.

“You learn from that and you review it all. I think it's a lot easier than people think.”

Whether McGuire is downplaying that element of his transition to the White Sox, he's at least impressed his manager in that area.

“It's real challenging, and he's handled it exceptionally well,” La Russa said. “He's a quick study. He has been studying, but he's a quick study.

“And we saw it even, he did a bullpen with a guy, take him into the game and he was already on board with what he had to work with. He's been very impressive.”

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