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Cards option Grichuk to continue development

PITTSBURGH -- The Cardinals' April 28 callup of outfielder Randal Grichuk came with a dose of transparency, as the organization made it clear that if Grichuk's development became stunted because of a lack of playing time, a change would be made.

The club reached that threshold on Friday.

With manager Mike Matheny seemingly ready to give Peter Bourjos an extended chance to start in center, the Cardinals optioned Grichuk to Triple-A Memphis, where he can resume playing every day. The 22-year-old went 3-for-21 during his first stint in the Majors. Joey Butler was promoted to take Grichuk's 25-man roster spot.

"It's nice to be able to bring [Butler] up, give him an opportunity, but also to stay on course with Randal, a guy that we see a lot of bright things for in the future," Matheny said. "But he's got to play. It's just going to be hard to get him some consistent playing time here, just like it will be for Joey."

The Cardinals appear ready to change course (again) with Bourjos, who went from beginning the year as the team's everyday center fielder to a sparingly-used player off the bench by the end of the season's first month. His five-hit performance in the Cardinals' recent series win over the Braves earned Bourjos the opportunity to try and sustain some offensive momentum.

Bourjos was back in the lineup on Friday against left-hander Francisco Liriano, his third start in the last four games. How committed the Cardinals are to giving Bourjos a longer leash to prove himself will be evident in how often Matheny is willing to start him against right-handed pitchers.

"We'll see how it plays out," Matheny said when that topic was raised on Friday. "We're not going to make a statement one way or another, but we're also not going to exclude the possibility that he'll be in there [against righties]. If he has been going about it offensively and defensively like he has been, then we're not necessarily looking for home runs and three-hit games every night for us to keep him in. He's taking better at-bats."

Bourjos, batting .217/.288/.350 this season, has now started as many games in center (17) as Jon Jay. With Butler unable to play center, Jay is the only other center fielder on the roster.

"I try to be as consistent as I can," Bourjos said. "Obviously, I want to be in the lineup every day. Things haven't gone that way, but I come in with a positive attitude and go into the cage and work to get better."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
Read More: St. Louis Cardinals, Randal Grichuk