Grichuk placed on DL with right elbow injury

Grichuk placed on DL with right elbow injury

ST. LOUIS -- Randal Grichuk, who had been key in helping the Cardinals navigate through injuries to starting outfielders Matt Holliday and Jon Jay, now finds himself among their company on the disabled list.

Grichuk was placed on the 15-day DL on Monday with a right elbow injury that includes a muscle strain and low-grade ligament sprain. General manager John Mozeliak explained that the most immediate alarm is the compromised muscle.

"The overall ligament probably looks like a lot of pitcher and position player elbows, so we're not overly concerned with that," Mozeliak said. "But short-term, you've got to let the muscle heal. Otherwise, I do think you expose the ligament to possible greater risk."

As it is, Grichuk won't be able to return until Sept. 1. Mozeliak said the organization is hopeful Grichuk will be back around that date, or shortly after. With rosters expanding on that date, the Cardinals could bring Grichuk back even if he is only able to help them in a limited capacity as a pinch-hitter.

Grichuk said he first felt some tightness while throwing on Saturday. The discomfort increased when he attempted to throw out Dee Gordon at the plate in Sunday's first inning, and then it became unmanageable after making a seventh-inning throw. It was at that point that the Cardinals removed Grichuk for precautionary purposes.

The 24-year-old outfielder then underwent an exam, which included an MRI, on Monday to get a more substantial diagnosis.

"[It's] very frustrating," Grichuk said on Monday. "[I] felt like I was swinging it well, felt good at the plate. For this to come, [to] miss some time, it's frustrating."

Grichuk has been one of the team's starting outfielders since early June, when he took over for an injured Holliday. Jay landed on the DL a few weeks later, which has led the Cardinals to play Grichuk primarily in center field over the past seven weeks.

Now, the Cardinals will have to get creative in filling the void created by having three everyday outfielders on the DL. Corner outfielders Jason Heyward and Stephen Piscotty are options to play center, and it was Heyward, making his first start at the position since 2013, who got the first look on Monday against the Giants. Moving one of them there would allow the Cardinals to play both Mark Reynolds and Brandon Moss, one at first base and one in the outfield.

The Cardinals now also have two additional center fielders on their roster in Peter Bourjos and Tommy Pham, who was recalled to take Grichuk's place on the roster. Pham played in 13 games for the Cardinals in July after having the start of his season delayed by a quad injury sustained during Spring Training. Pham went 8-for-44 during that stint. Since returning to Triple-A, Pham has hit .319/.394/.396 in 24 games.

After returning from a back injury in mid-May, Grichuk leads the team in home runs (14), RBIs (42), slugging percentage (.559) and doubles (20) since May 16. Over the weekend, he became the fourth fastest in franchise history to hit 15 home runs in his rookie season.

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