Grichuk goes deep, first-to-third vs. Nationals with no pain

Outfielder was slowed earlier in camp by soreness in his lower back

Grichuk goes deep, first-to-third vs. Nationals with no pain

VIERA, Fla. -- Outfielder Randal Grichuk, slowed earlier in camp by soreness in his lower back, rejoined the Cardinals' lineup with a bang during Saturday's 6-5 loss to the Nationals.

Grichuk delivered a solo homer -- the Cardinals' first long ball of the Grapefruit League season -- by turning on a first-pitch inside fastball from Nationals right-hander A.J. Cole in the third inning. None of his homers for the Cardinals last season came off a righty.

"He has a special kind of power," manager Mike Matheny said.

Before that, Grichuk had drawn a walk in his first plate appearance and tested outfielder Bryce Harper by going first-to-third on Scott Moore's single to right. He reached safely and then scored the team's first run.

"I felt, 'Why not press the envelope a little bit?'" Grichuk said. "I got up [from sliding into third], felt fine, scored, and then came back in the dugout and said, 'Wow, my back didn't hurt. That's a good sign.' Adrenaline. I didn't think about it in the moment."

Other items of note from the day:

• The Cardinals showcased their two late-inning relievers for the first time this spring as Jordan Walden and Trevor Rosenthal, in that order, made scoreless appearances. Walden used an inning-ending double play to work around a single and a walk in his Cardinals debut. Rosenthal retired all three batters he faced on 12 pitches (eight strikes) and struck out one.

"I like how Jordan came in and had good heavy velocity," Matheny said. "And Trevor, to me, looked extremely good. The changeup came out of his hand nice. The fastball was jumping."

• Shortstop Aledmys Diaz made his spring debut Saturday, going 0-for-2. Matheny indicated that Diaz, who defected from Cuba before signing a four-year deal with the Cardinals last March, will be hard-pressed for playing time in big league camp because of how many other infielders the Cardinals have to evaluate.

• With his appearance in right field on Saturday, Ty Kelly played his third position in three games. He was at third on Thursday and second base on Friday. Kelly, who has opened the spring 2-for-7, is a candidate to make the Cardinals' bench.

Pete Kozma drew a smattering of boos when he was introduced for his first plate appearance. It seems Nationals fans haven't forgotten Kozma's game-winning hit that knocked Washington from the National League Division Series in 2012.

Kozma's sac fly

• Prior to Sunday's game against the Marlins, Adam Wainwright and John Lackey will throw live batting practice against a group of Cardinals position players. For Wainwright, who has been slowed by an abdominal strain, this will be a first spring opportunity to face batters. After the session, the Cardinals will likely have a better idea of when Wainwright might be ready to make his first game appearance.

Lackey had asked the Cardinals to delay his first spring start out of preference and will instead get the additional work throwing in a controlled setting.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.