Randal Grichuk is headed to Jupiter to rediscover his hitting approach.
With outfielder Randal Grichuk struggling to a .222/.276/.377 slash line this season, the St. Louis Cardinals are thinking outside the box as they try to get his plate approach fixed. The 25-year-old outfielder was optioned to High-A Palm Beach on Monday, with GM John Mozeliak saying the goal of the unorthodox demotion was to get Grichuk’s “strike zone management” under control.
The Cardinals have used the dual purposes of their Jupiter facility to their advantage on several occasions this season, sending big-leaguers there for rehab assignments so they can participate in both extended spring training and High-A games and receive unlimited at-bats, which accelerates the process of them making adjustments at the plate. The Cardinals will hope that Grichuk can find his stroke as quickly as possible and return to the big leagues sooner than later with a new sense of confidence.
Grichuk’s performance at the plate this season has been bad but not totally disastrous, so it’s reasonable to think he could get things turned around without a lengthy stint in the minor leagues.
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With Tommy Pham arguably being the lifeblood of the Cardinals’ offense right now, though, and Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty locked up long-term and not going anywhere, Grichuk is going to have to show real improvement to earn anything more than the Cardinals’ fourth outfielder job going forward.
Taking Grichuk’s spot on the roster was outfielder/first baseman José Martínez, who had been out since May 7 with a groin injury. For a guy who was a 28-year-old career minor-leaguer coming into this season, Martínez has sure made his presence known during 2017. The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder, who started in right field Monday and is batting .294/.333/.431 this season, has at various points forced the demotions of both Grichuk and Pham, and his ability to play first base made Matt Adams expendable enough that the Cardinals chose to trade him to the Atlanta Braves earlier this month.
With Grichuk gone, the Cardinals’ everyday outfield is likely to consist of Pham, Fowler, and Piscotty (if and when he returns from a mysterious absence), though Martinez should get a solid amount of action at both of the corner spots.