Cardinals bring back Grichuk from Triple-A
ST LOUIS -- There was no big reveal. Randal Grichuk was simply called into the manager's office at Triple-A Memphis and told he was to report to Busch Stadium by batting practice Friday.
So Grichuk jumped into his 2010 Ford F-150 at 8 a.m. Friday and made the four-hour-or-so drive to St. Louis. The 22-year-old rookie stood happily in front of his locker at Busch Stadium hours later, his name in the No. 2 spot of the Cardinals' starting lineup, playing right field.
"You dream of coming up here your whole life, and when you finally get up here, it's a whirlwind," said Grichuk, the Cardinals' No. 11 prospect. "Now I can kind of relax, calm down and play my game."
Grichuk made his Major League debut in late April and between then and the first week of May appeared in nine games for the Cardinals, hitting .143. The Cardinals couldn't find enough at-bats for the young outfielder and optioned him back to Triple-A.
He has had success in the Minors, hitting .315 this season with a .589 slugging percentage, ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League. The right-handed hitter has 10 home runs on the season, the latest coming Thursday night before his promotion.
The Cardinals have taken notice. Partly because of the lack of power hitter Matt Adams in recent games -- the first baseman wasn't in the lineup for the third straight game Friday due to a tight left calf -- and with trips to the American League next week, Grichuk got the call with Shane Robinson being optioned back to Triple-A.
"He just went back [down] and kept raking," manager Mike Matheny said of Grichuk. "He went back and never really missed a beat. He got right back after it and continued to do it up until last night."
Grichuk was acquired by St. Louis in the offseason along with Peter Bourjos in the trade that sent David Freese to the Angels.
After getting a taste of the Majors early in the season, Grichuk wasn't given any special instructions by Matheny or the Cardinals for his trip back to Triple-A. He took the move as an opportunity to work to improve at the plate.
"Obviously all guys that get sent down want to get up as soon as possible, but I went back down just trying to work on my game, tried to stay focused," Grichuk said. "A lot of guys go down there and I feel like they want to get up here so bad, they kind of lose focus on the task at hand, and that's playing the game."
Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak have had discussions about adding a bat with seven games in AL ballparks awaiting the Cardinals at the conclusion of the homestand. Grichuk also provides the ability to play all three outfield positions.
The key to bringing him up this time was being certain there would be playing time.
"We just all need to be on the same page before we bring up a kid and maybe send him back in his development," Matheny said. "It's hard to bring him up here just to watch him sit or be that emergency guy off the bench."