As the Cardinals played the final game of a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday afternoon, center fielder Peter Bourjos was held out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game. With his prolonged break from starting duty, things are looking to be on an increasing downward turn for the 27-year-old, who was one of the Cardinals’ most prominent offseason acquisitions after being acquired from the Los Angeles Angels and was expected to be the team’s regular starter in center.
After having a relatively successful spring training, Bourjos has not been able to put it together at the plate during the regular season’s first month. He started off 0 for his first 13, and he’s now 8-for-50 with just two RBI. He already had begun losing starts against righthanded pitchers to Jon Jay, the outfielder he was supposed to replace, but things have gotten even more difficult for Bourjos now that righthanded-hitting Randal Grichuk has been recalled from Triple-A. Ironically, Grichuk was billed as a throw-in in the offseason trade that brought Bourjos to the Cardinals, so Bourjos must feel just a little bit jaded that Grichuk has already passed him up. Manager Mike Matheny acknowledged that the Cardinals called up the 22-year-old with the intention of playing him regularly, so Bourjos is going to need to start showing improvement in any pinch-hitting opportunities he may get if he wants to reassert himself as a regular. On a side note, top prospect Oscar Taveras is now hitting .326 with five homers and a .941 slugging percentage through his first month at Triple-A, so the outfield situation could get even more complicated if Taveras receives a call up soon.
It would seem that the key for Bourjos would be getting more balls in play, as he has a more respectable .242 batting average in those situations. He has a .310 career BABIP, so it’s fair tp assume that if he starts making better contact he will experience much more success. Bourjos has struck out in 17 of his first 50 at-bats, a rate that definitely needs to go down. Perhaps this extended off period will allow him to make the necessary adjustments so that he no longer has as much trouble making contact.