Grichuk (hernia surgery) likely to miss start of season

February 14th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder said on Tuesday that he underwent surgery for a bilateral sports hernia a week ago. Grichuk said if all goes well with his rehab, he should be ready for game action in six weeks, but it will likely delay the start to his regular season.

Grichuk, who had sports hernia surgery on his right side when he was with the Cardinals in December 2015, said the problem flared up a little more than a month ago. He had treatments before he underwent an MRI that revealed the need for surgery.

“It was one of those things that was not going to get better, and it was a matter of when was it going to get worse,” Grichuk said on Tuesday as Rockies players were undergoing physicals. “I’d much rather miss Spring Training, get back late spring and miss only a little bit of [regular-season] time than try to play through the grind of trying to play every day, 100% effort, then let it flare in April and miss two or three months of the season.”

Grichuk was encouraged that the doctor’s timetable is quicker than he had expected, but he added that recoveries from sports hernias are case by case.

Last year, the Rockies acquired Grichuk, 31, during Spring Training from the Blue Jays for outfielder Raimel Tapia. Grichuk slashed .259/.299/.425 with 19 home runs, displaying some impressive distances on his homers.

Grichuk spent part of the offseason in Baton Rouge, La., at the Baseball Performance Lab through his bat company, Marucci, to find the proper bat for his swing.

Grichuk’s injury adds another layer of questions to a Rockies outfield that’s based more on projection than settled spots. Left fielder Kris Bryant looks to rebound from a frustrating first year in Colorado in which he played just 42 games because of an early-season back injury and a right foot injury that ended his season on Aug. 31.

The Rockies sought a left-handed-hitting outfielder, preferably a center fielder, during the offseason, but they declined to offer a multiyear deal since prospects like Zac Veen (the club's  No. 1-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline) and Brenton Doyle (No. 23) are projected to make their debuts this season. Doyle, who has more professional experience than Veen, is on the 40-man roster.

The plan was for center and right to be handled mostly by Yonathan Daza and Grichuk. Both can play either position. Grichuk played 106 games in right and 52 in center last season, while Daza made 92 appearances in center, 27 in left and one in right.

Gruchuk’s absence offers a chance for outfield playing time for three players who made their debuts last year. Sean Bouchard impressed with a .454 on-base percentage, and Nolan Jones batted .244 with two homers in a 28-game debut with the Guardians last season and also posted an .831 OPS with nine homers in 55 Triple-A games. Switch-hitting Michael Toglia (.216, two homers and 12 RBIs in 31 Major League games), whose strong defense at first base was part of the reason he debuted last season, has played solidly in right after picking up the position in the Minors.