"He needs to be right, and where he is right now isn't where he wants to be," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He was disappointed because he wants to be a part of this team, but he gets it. He also understands that we were about at the point where we might have to take some of his playing time, and he needed to go figure it out."
Pham started for St. Louis on Opening Day, but he suffered a strained oblique after just one at-bat and was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day. The 28-year-old figures into the Cardinals' plans in the outfield. Matheny envisioned a role similar to Jeremy Hazelbaker, who was optioned to Triple-A on Friday, when Kolten Wong was called up.
Matheny is confident Grichuk can make it back soon if he follows a path similar to how Wong approached his demotion earlier this month.
"I believe this guy is a superstar player," Matheny said. "I don't say that about many young guys, but just the skill set he has and what he has the potential to do, he can be a superstar. He's got some holes, though, and he's going to have to fix them."
Pham, who was activated from the DL on May 17, was optioned to Memphis to get some more at-bats before rejoining the Cardinals. He homered in each of his last two games for the Triple-A club. The third-year outfielder hit .268 with five home runs and 28 runs scored in 52 games for St. Louis in 2015.
"The thing about this business and how competitive it is, is if you leave the door open, it gets closed before you can even enter it," general manager John Mozeliak said. "I wouldn't say it was a tough break, I would say it was unfortunate. As we say, 'One man's loss may be another man's gain,' and that's what happened."
Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.