Healthy Grant Smith Ready for 2024 Season
Kentucky shortstop Grant Smith was one of the best defenders in the country last season. What makes his wizardry in the field even more impressive is that Smith did it all while playing through an injury.
After having hip surgery in the offseason, the resilient Smith will take the field with his determination to bounce back matching his belief in the team this season.
A 2023 Gold Glove Award finalist, Smith is coming into this season post hip surgery with a new perspective.
“It (surgery) gave me a new outlook on the season and I think this team’s going to be really special,” Smith said, “I’m definitely itching to get back out there. And, you know, I have a different perspective this year.”
Smith has been undergoing the recovery process for the duration of the offseason which is no small task.
“I think I had a special offseason just because I had surgery and I was coming back from that,” Smith said. “So, there’s a lot of challenges in that alone.”
As the Wildcats step onto the diamond this season, Smith’s presence will not be taken for granted. In the 2023 season, Smith made just three errors in 244 chances on an injured hip. How’s he feeling now?
“I’m seeing a little bit of a speed increase.” Smith says, “So, just trying to get that quick and fast twitch for step muscles back working. I’m seeing good results now close to the season.”
Offensively last season, Smith had 11 sacrifice bunts, which ranked 13th nationally. However, he also showed a power streak by homering in five straight games from May 13 to May 20. As the 2024 season approaches, the expectations are higher for Smith both in performance and as being a leader.
With the returning leadership of Devin Burkes and Emilien Pitre up the middle, the Cats have the makings of a very solid defensive team. Smith thinks that the Cats could be even better this year than they were last season.
“I think that our defense this year has the potential to be the best in the country this year,” Smith said. “I believe we are the best in the country.”
As the season approaches Smith said, “I came to a little bit of a new perspective in terms of every time I take the field, I’m a little bit more grateful now. I am just trying to support them (my teammates) in the best way. Now that I’m back on the field. I’m just grateful and happy. Happy for another season.”
With a healthy Smith returning, the Cats appear to be ready to take more steps forward in 2024.