Grichuk faces ex-team, homers over good pal Trout

Center fielders were roommates in Angels' farm system

Grichuk faces ex-team, homers over good pal Trout

ANAHEIM -- Randal Grichuk slowed to a trot, sure that as he neared second base after driving a ball to deep center on Tuesday that Mike Trout had snared it from the shrubs beyond the center-field wall. He knew better than to assume that anything could clear the Gold Glove outfielder's reach.

This time, though, the player that Grichuk was once compared to and forever connected to wasn't stealing the spotlight from him again. The home run, Grichuk's fifth of the season, helped the Cardinals to an 8-1 rout over the Angels and gave the Anaheim crowd a glimpse of what might have been had the Angels not agreed to add Grichuk in that November 2013 trade that sent David Freese and Fernando Salas out of St. Louis.

Grichuk never made it to Angel Stadium as a member of the home team, as his climb in the Angels' system was stalled by persistent injuries and overshadowed by Trout. The two center fielders, born six days apart, were selected by the Angels with consecutive picks in the first round of the 2009 Draft. Grichuk's name was called first. Trout became the star.

"Obviously, you want to go and do well and hopefully kind of show they made a mistake," Grichuk said of playing in Anaheim. "I feel like every player that gets traded wants to prove that to his former team."

Wanting to show the Angels the talent they gave up on isn't so much out of spite, though, as Grichuk acknowledges that being traded to the Cardinals was a needed career spark.

"I got injured so much in that organization, that I felt like I got put on the back burner," he said. "They didn't really expect much out of me at that point. I definitely think that this trade helped rejuvenate my career. I'm definitely thankful for it."

Grichuk and Trout became fast friends in the Angels' system, rooming together in rookie ball and instructional league. In 2010, they played together at Class A Cedar Rapids, which is where Grichuk suffered a broken left wrist that limited him to 53 games that season. A broken kneecap reduced his time on the field the next year, and by the time Grichuk finished his first full season in 2011, Trout was in the Majors.

The two remained close, however, so much so that after Tuesday's game, Grichuk rushed out of the clubhouse so that he could spend some time with Trout. And yes, the topic of his fifth-inning home run most definitely came up.

"I'm happy for him," Trout said of Grichuk's success. "He's obviously gotten an opportunity over there and he's taking advantage of it. He's come a long way. He obviously has the talent. It's good to see him up here succeeding."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. 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.