Cardinal centerfielder talks about breaking into the Majors last season.
When Randal Grichuk was drafted out of high school by the California Angels in 2009, he was chosen with the 24th overall selection - one spot ahead of Mike Trout.
While Trout skyrocketed into baseball’s best player, Grichuk has made a more gradual climb.
Coming to the St. Louis Cardinals in the David Freese trade back in 2013, Grichuk starred for the AAA Memphis Redbirds for a couple of years and last year showed his vast potential in the Cardinals’ outfield, blasting 17 homers and 47 RBI while batting .276 in just 323 at-bats.
Now he comes into 2016 expected to be the Cardinals’ starting centerfielder.
In January Grichuk was in Rolla as part of the Cardinal Caravan.
The Daily News got to sit down with him at that time. Here are his comments:
Q: You became a bona fide Major Leaguer last season. How did that feel?
A: “It was my first full season breaking with the team. I felt when I was on the field that I played well.”
Q: The numbers were great, but you were sidelined often with injuries. Were most of those injuries due to weight room training instead of on the field?
A: “I had a back injury issue that came in the weight room; from doing squats. I don’t know why; my form was pretty good. I had kind of questionable injuries. I don’t squat anymore.”
Q: Late in the season you were recovering from an elbow problem, which affected your playing time at the end of the regular season on through the postseason and maybe cost you a chance at the NL Rookie of the Year Award. How is the elbow now?
A: “It’s good. I was on a throwing program in the offseason. I’ve had no problems with it.”
Q: Talk about the adjustments you made at the plate last year. You always had good power but contact and batting average was the question. How did you improve on that?
A: “I laid the bat head down a little, to give me a more direct path to the ball. I feel comfortable with it. I think that will lead to success.”
Q: What does it feel like being expected to be The Man in centerfield for the St. Louis Cardinals this year?
A: “I’ve played a lot of centerfield. I think that surprises some people. When I got in the lineup (with the Cardinals) it was in leftfield, and I got labeled as a leftfielder. But I’ve worked with our outfield coordinator to get better defensively, with a better arm. I won a Minor League Gold Glove in 2013 (working in rightfield).”
Q: Even though the Cardinals won 100 games in 2015, all the talk heading into this year surrounds the Chicago Cubs, with all their young talent and free agent pickups. What are your thoughts about the National League Central Division race?
A: “Obviously with the acquisitions they have made, they are the one everyone is picking. It will be fun. We have a very good team but are kind of flying under the radar.”