Grichuk homers twice in intrasquad rout

Losing team assigned clubhouse chores; Cards given Tuesday off

February 29th, 2016

JUPITER, Fla. -- After promising to inject competition into as many facets of Spring Training as possible, manager Mike Matheny upped the stakes with an intrasquad game on Monday.

The winners would get bragging rights. The losers? Clubhouse chores.

There were various versions of the final score, though that's only because it ended up a rout on Field 1 by the end of the five-inning affair. Randal Grichuk blasted a pair of home runs for the winning side, while Stephen Piscotty contributed with a diving catch and two-run dinger himself.

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All the offense came off Triple-A pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd, who was the designated pitcher for both teams. Standing behind him on the mound was first-base coach Chris Maloney, whose duty was to call balls and strikes. The pitchers were divided in half, left only to cheer and hope that the position players they were teamed with came through so that they wouldn't have to clean.

"We don't put much stock into anything [hit off] a guy throwing from 50 feet at 50 mph, but we like watching them compete," Matheny said. "My favorite part is that almost every single year that the team that is into it the most wins the thing. ... Even something as insignificant as this can be a great teaching moment."

Afterward, members of the losing team split up to tend to various clubhouse duties. One group scraped dirt off cleats, while another scrubbed down the toilets and showers. Others cleaned dishes or vacuumed or lugged gear off the field.

Despite Matheny's attempts to split his projected starting position players between the two teams, the offenses were somewhat imbalanced. Matt Holliday pulled himself out of participating after telling Matheny he had already gotten enough swings in during his early work. That left the eventual losing team without its three-hole hitter.

The game provided a wrinkle to an otherwise predictable spring schedule. Matheny has decided to alter things on Tuesday, too, by canceling workouts. It's part of his initiative to find ways to keep players better rested this year.

"We want to give off every day we can possibly give off," Matheny said. "If there were days during the season that I could find a way to give them off, I'd give them those off, too. I can't tell you enough times that we have to do something to help these guys. Not saying that these guys are soft or complaining that this is too hard. That's not the deal. It's a different time in the history of the game, and we have to figure out ways to let these guys breathe a little bit."