Curtis Granderson Gives Dodgers Embarrassment of Riches on Field, Leader off It

Danny KnoblerMLB Lead WriterAugust 29, 2017

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson celebrates in the dugout after scoring a run on an RBI single from teammate Adrian Gonzales in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Lon Horwedel)
LON HORWEDEL/Associated Press

They were watching video the other day in the New York Mets clubhouse, not to get ready for a game but just out of personal interest. The Mets have traded away plenty of players who felt like family over the last few weeks, so it can take a while to keep track of how they're all doing with their new teams.

This was the day after Curtis Granderson hit his first home run with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and something stood out to the watching Mets.

It wasn't the swing. They'd seen plenty of Granderson swings over his four seasons in Queens.

It wasn't the ball hitting the right field foul pole. Granderson hit 95 home runs in his time with the Mets.

It was what happened after that.

"They celebrated like he had been there all year," Mets bench coach Dick Scott said. "That tells you something right there."

It tells you that even on a team with as much going for it as the Dodgers have going this season, Granderson was an instant and easy fit.

"I think Curtis fits in anywhere," said Jay Bruce, another ex-Met, who has been an instant and easy fit himself with the Cleveland Indians. "He's a professional. You know Curtis. You know what he stands for. You know that he epitomizes professionalism."

Curtis Granderson celebrates with this Dodger teammates.
Curtis Granderson celebrates with this Dodger teammates.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

As much as it seemed the Dodgers didn't need any help—"I don't think we need anything," manager Dave Roberts had told reporters in mid-July—they did end up finding ways to upgrade. They did it in a big way by trading for pitcher Yu Darvish, but also in smaller ways by adding left-handed relievers Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani.

And by adding Granderson three weeks after the non-waiver trade deadline. His contract allowed him to pass through waivers, and the Dodgers got an outfielder who is more than just a spare part.

Granderson has played every day of late, with Cody Bellinger on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle. He has just four hits in 29 at-bats, but three of those were home runs. The first one broke up a Justin Verlander no-hit bid in the sixth inning Aug. 20 in Detroit. The next one was a grand slam that gave the Dodgers a seventh-inning lead the following night in Pittsburgh.

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They watched tape of that one in the Mets clubhouse, too.

"It was all the talk: 'Hey, Grandy hit a grand slam,'" Scott said. "How cool is that?"

Scott calls Granderson "the most professional teammate I've ever been around."

Reliever Jerry Blevins, who has pitched for three teams in 11 big league seasons, says simply: "There's not a better personality to have in a clubhouse."

The Dodgers got Granderson for his left-handed bat, for his ability to play all three outfield spots and for the experience that comes from playing 14 years in the major leagues and making it to the playoffs in six of those seasons.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since 1988. Granderson has been there twice, with two different teams.

"He's a big-game player; he's been on the big stage his entire career," Roberts told reporters, including MLB.com's Catherine Slonksnis, soon after Granderson arrived.

The Dodgers know that from experience. When they lost to the Mets in the National League Division Series two years ago, Daniel Murphy hit the big home runs, but Granderson hit .389 and drove in five runs in five games.

That same October, he homered three times in the World Series.

Granderson's celebrations with the Mets included three after home runs he hit in the 2015 World Series.
Granderson's celebrations with the Mets included three after home runs he hit in the 2015 World Series.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Dodgers are built around their stars, but what turned them from good to great was how useful all the rest of their parts have been. Granderson becomes another one of those useful parts.

Beyond the big stage, though, there's what Granderson brings backstage. He's never been a vocal leader, but he's always been someone who knows the right thing to say at the right time to a teammate. He's not one to join a new team and try to change what it's doing, but the Dodgers weren't a team that needed changing.

As Bill Plunkett wrote a few weeks back in the Orange County Register, the Dodgers' clubhouse culture has changed dramatically over last two seasons.

"Thirteen and '14, we knew we were gifted. We knew we were talented," closer Kenley Jansen told Plunkett. "I hate to say it but '13 and '14 it was all superstars. Everybody wanted to be superstars. Everybody wanted the spotlight.

"This team, there's no comparison. No comparison. We know we have the talent, but it's like we're a unit, we're a family. This team, it's never about one guy."

That made it a perfect group for Granderson to join. But Scott contends any team would be improved by adding Granderson.

"He has universal respect around the league," Scott said. "Curtis could plug himself into any team in the league and fit right in. That is not easy to do. We've traded for guys here, and there's always a grace period.

"Curtis blends right away. He's always upbeat."

Scott thought back to two other Granderson videos, both posted on his @cgrand3 Twitter account. One went to Mets fans right after he found out he'd been traded. The next came from the dugout at Comerica Park, his message to Dodger fans:

Curtis Granderson @cgrand3

Excited to join the @Dodgers today back where it all started for me in #Detroit! https://t.co/EiifDfw2nK

"He's so genuine," Scott said. "He's one of a kind."

He'll help the Dodgers. He already has.

And back in New York, the Mets will be as happy for him as any ex-team could be.

How cool is that?


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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