CHICAGO -- Having returned from the disabled list on Friday unsure how quickly his timing would return, Randal Grichuk showed no sign of rust. His second-inning blast in Sunday's 5-3 loss was his third homer in as many games, making him the first Cardinals player since Jose Pujols (2011) to
CHICAGO -- Having returned from the disabled list on Friday unsure how quickly his timing would return, Randal Grichuk showed no sign of rust. His second-inning blast in Sunday's 5-3 loss was his third homer in as many games, making him the first Cardinals player since Jose Pujols (2011) to homer in every game of a series against the Cubs.
The surge for Grichuk, who was on the DL for a lower back strain, comes at a time when the Cardinals are trying to figure out how the 25-year-old fits for the long term -- or if he does at all.
A glut of outfield talent has positioned the Cardinals to be able to deal from that area of depth, if they so choose prior to next Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. Grichuk, who has teased with his power potential but struggled to produce consistently, fits as a player the Cardinals would be willing to move for the right return.
Clubs interested in Grichuk will like what they saw this weekend, as he homered in three straight games for the first time in his career and finished 5-for-11 with five RBIs and four runs. The production came on the heels of an 11-day layoff in which Grichuk's only activity was four plate appearances in a Double-A rehab game.
Grichuk returned from the DL stint showcasing the same shortened swing he developed during a demotion earlier this year, and he believes that's what set him up for success.
"I definitely think that shortening the swing is allowing me to get to pitches that I can foul off, and I'm able to get mistakes later in the at-bat," Grichuk said. "It's just allowing me to barrel up the ball that in the past I might have just been missing or just under or something like that."
Grichuk, who struck out about once every three at-bats in the first half, limited his total to three in 12 plate appearances this series.
"When he's shorter, he's better," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's all controlling the strike zone. And by shortening his swing, when he finds the barrel, good things happen."
John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' president of baseball operations, spoke earlier this summer about wanting to give Grichuk an extended opportunity to "sink or swim" as an everyday player. Mozeliak noted on Friday that the time is now, which is why the club chose not to keep outfielder Magneuris Sierra on the roster, even as Stephen Piscotty continues recovering from injury.
This is Grichuk's opportunity to audition for the Cardinals -- and for whomever else may be watching.
"I feel like I'm in a good spot mentally, in the sense of having an approach and a plan and staying with it to where I feel like when I swing short, the timing will come pretty quickly," Grichuk said. "It's just a matter of being able to stay with that approach and not think too much."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.