José Martínez is back with Randal Grichuk headed to the DL.
The St. Louis Cardinals announced on Friday morning that they’ve placed outfielder Randal Grichuk on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain and recalled outfielder/first baseman José Martínez from Triple-A Memphis.
The 28-year-old Martínez, who made the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster and had spent the entire season in the big leagues, was optioned to Triple-A last Friday but never actually played in a game for the Redbirds, as he apparently took the weekend to report to the minors.
Memphis was off from Monday to Wednesday for the Triple-A All-Star break, and Martínez was likely on his way back to join the Cardinals as the Redbirds returned to action Thursday night against the Round Rock Express.
Grichuk, the Cardinals’ Opening Day left fielder, hits another bump in the road after being exiled to the minor leagues for nearly a month earlier this season. He heads to the disabled list after hitting five home runs but failing to make consistent contact following his recall from Triple-A Memphis on June 25.
For the season, the 25-year-old is hitting .215/.270/.408 with nine homers in 241 plate appearances. This is about as big of a setback as Grichuk could have in his bid to break back into the Cardinals’ everyday lineup.
Tommy Pham will have at least another couple weeks to prove that he never deserves to be part of any platoon-type situation again (though it’s odd that he hasn’t already done enough to reach that level of security), and with Grichuk likely to go back to the minors on a rehab assignment, he’ll face the difficult task of trying to earn back his spot on the 25-man roster.
Ignoring Grichuk’s status as the Cardinals’ most explosive power threat, Martínez is probably a better fit on the current roster than Grichuk would be. He won’t tempt Mike Matheny to sit Tommy Pham and play him the way that Grichuk does.
Martinez is one of the team’s best pinch hitters, hitting .429/.529/.786 with a homer through 17 plate appearances in that role this season, and he’s simply having a better season overall than Grichuk is, hitting .280/.321/.464 with five homers in 135 PAs.
He doesn’t provide much in the way of defensive value — Martinez is not really a strong defender at first base or in the outfield — but he’s a very solid bench player on a team that already has more than enough starting position-player types anyway.