Grichuk's spring glove work paying off

Gonzales optioned to Triple-A; Molina notches first camp hit

Grichuk's spring glove work paying off

JUPITER, Fla. -- Weeks after beginning defense tutorials with former Gold Glove center fielder Jim Edmonds, Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk is seeing some payoff.

Grichuk offered a pair of defensive highlights in the Cardinals' 4-3 loss to the Red Sox on Monday. He threw out Hanley Ramirez trying to advance from first to third on a single for the first out of the second inning, and then closed the inning by laying out for a diving catch.

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Both plays, Grichuk said, were aided by his improved positioning and anticipation. Throughout the spring, he has been intent on watching where the catcher sets up for a pitch and then adjusting his position accordingly.

"Just pretty much putting yourself in the best possible position for where you think the ball is going to be hit," Grichuk said. "The first game [of spring] I had to get adjusted mentally to staying in the game with the catcher. But over the last few games it's becoming natural."

Grichuk's diving grab

Grichuk noted that his arm strength, which was hindered by an injury during the second half of last season, has also returned. He believes he has been helped by reducing the throwing work he does pregame.

"I feel like when push comes to shove, and I need to make a throw, it's going to be fine," Grichuk said. "I have made two to three throws ingame and have been pleased with how they came out."

Worth noting
• Following his two-inning start on Monday, lefty Marco Gonzales was optioned to Triple-A. He will begin the year as part of that Memphis rotation, seemingly ready as the pseudo "sixth starter" to be summoned when the Cardinals have a need. Gonzales made five spring appearances (two starts) and allowed seven runs (five earned) on 14 hits and five walks in 9 2/3 innings. He struck out six.

"He's had a good spring and has shown that he's healthy and strong," bench coach David Bell said. "He's right on track."

Jaime Garcia threw 75 pitches over five innings in a Minor League scrimmage on Monday. Garcia had hoped to get work pitching out of the stretch, and he had plenty of it as leadoff batters reached in three innings. He allowed two runs (one earned).

"I felt like I did a good job working out of the stretch, keeping the ball down, getting ground balls," Garcia said. "I'm excited about the work I did today. I'm going to be ready to go."

Catcher Brayan Pena caught Garcia's outing before rejoining the big league team for the end of its game.

• With a line-drive single to left, Yadier Molina snapped an 0-for-10 spring start in the fourth inning. It is worth noting, of course, that Molina was not permitted to take a swing in his first three at-bats of Grapefruit League play. He continues to play uninhibited by his surgically repaired left thumb.

• Manager Mike Matheny, who missed Monday's game to attend his grandmother's funeral, is expected to return to camp on Wednesday. The club will have no activity at its spring complex on Tuesday, which will be the third of three off-days for the Cardinals this spring.

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