Cards taking patient approach with Grichuk

St. Louis to wait and see as young outfielder remains with team as threat off bench

Cards taking patient approach with Grichuk

CHICAGO -- As he opens the season as a right-handed power threat off the Cardinals' bench, outfielder Randal Grichuk also finds himself lodged in that debate of whether his potential impact on a Major League club outweighs the opportunity for continued development through regular playing time in the Minors.

St. Louis entered camp hinting that the latter would be the preferred path for the 23-year-old Grichuk, who has played in only 108 Triple-A games.

But Grichuk rewrote those plans by having arguably the most impressive spring of any position player in camp. He flaunted his power potential and gave reason to believe he can narrow the gap in his production against right-handed and left-handed pitchers.

It earned Grichuk a spot on the Opening Day roster and puts general manager John Mozeliak in a wait-and-see position.

"I'm going to be patient with that," Mozeliak said. "There's going to be a time when we look at that and make sure that we're not dwarfing his development because of lack of playing time. But I think the first thing we have to do is just let the season get going and see ultimately how he's being used."

Grichuk's two-run shot

Grichuk offers manager Mike Matheny the flexibility to play any of the three outfield positions, and he is a tempting option to put into the starting lineup when the Cardinals face a lefty opponent.

But while the Cards try to best determine how to get him involved, Grichuk seeks to be better in the role he fills now. He was rather successful as a pinch-hitter in 2014 -- going 6-for-18 with a homer and two RBIs -- but believes he's more ready for the role now after a year of gleaning suggestions about how to prepare for the job from Daniel Descalso and Mark Ellis.

"I learned that it's very tough," Grichuk said. "That's the first time I've ever been in that role, so I wasn't used to it and didn't know what to expect. I realized that you have to get your work in and prepare like you're starting every day. You have to be mentally focused on the game, watching the game, watching at-bats so when you're called in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, you're ready."

Worth noting

• The Cardinals held a 60-minute workout at Wrigley Field on Monday morning, during which most of the position players took batting practice and Michael Wacha threw a side session in advance of his Friday start. Matheny said he scheduled the workout since the team had an off-day two days ago and another one coming in three days.

• According to a release from ESPN, the Cards-Cubs Opening Night telecast drew a 17.7 rating in St. Louis, making it the highest-rated regular-season game on an ESPN network in the market. Nationally, the telecast received the highest rating for any Opening Day contest since 2010.

• Though he threw 20 pitches in a relief appearance on Opening Night, right-hander Carlos Martinez will throw a bullpen session on either Tuesday or Wednesday as the final prep before his start on Saturday. Martinez needs the extra work since his last Grapefruit League appearance came on Wednesday.

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.