Grichuk working on approach against righties

Outfielder shows early progress with homer against Twins' Nolasco

Grichuk working on approach against righties

JUPITER, Fla. -- As he went through his work this offseason, outfielder Randal Grichuk did so with an eye on improving his pitch recognition against right-handers. Literally.

In the batting cages, Grichuk would cue up the pitching machine to throw him right-handed curveballs and sliders, hopeful that there would be payoff to the repetition.

"I wanted to train my eye to see it," Grichuk explained. "You just have to get used to seeing the curveball and slider running away from you a little bit."

Looking back on his first taste of the Majors, Grichuk cited a deficiency in his production against right-handed pitchers. While he actually hit for a slightly higher average against righties (.250) than he did lefties (.242), the power numbers off the two didn't compare. Grichuk has yet to hit a home run off a Major League right-hander and averaged one every 27 at-bats last year in Triple-A. Off left-handers, Grichuk averaged one homer per every 13 Triple-A at-bats.

The disparity is one reason why the Cardinals started Grichuk almost exclusively against lefties during his first weeks in the Majors. It wasn't until the Cardinals needed more regular right-field help late in the year that Grichuk drew more starts against right-handers.

"I think it kind of got in my head last year," Grichuk said. "I didn't put together good at-bats [against righties] early and did against lefties. This year I'm going to be comfortable off both sides and really focus on having good quality at-bats and making sure it's in the zone and not chasing."

The sample size is small, but Grichuk has had some early spring success against right-handers. His first home run of the spring came off an A.J. Cole breaking ball. He went deep for the third time on Sunday with a booming solo shot off Twins righty Ricky Nolasco.

If the Cardinals end up carrying Grichuk on their Opening Day roster, it will be as a bench player. In that case, he'd likely continue to take the majority of his at-bats against left-handers. To emerge as an everyday option in the future, however, he'd have to show a more complete offensive profile.

"I think he just had a real comfortable groove against left-handers [last year] because we were throwing him against left-handers so much," manager Mike Matheny said. "But the kind of power he has, it's just a matter of getting timed up. He can make a bad pitch go pretty far."

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