OF logjam blocking Grichuk's return to Cardinals

OF logjam blocking Grichuk's return to Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals are pleased with the progress Randal Grichuk has made since being sent to Triple-A Memphis, his return to the Majors, general manager John Mozeliak said on Monday, likely won't come until the Cardinals can guarantee Grichuk regular playing time.

Grichuk has played 14 games since his demotion, and he has hit .271/.280/.625 with two doubles, five homers and 15 RBIs. He has cut back on his strikeouts, and Mozeliak said feedback from the development staff "has been very good."

But with uncertainty about how much playing time Grichuk would be in line to get with the Major League team, the Cardinals have chosen to keep the 24-year-old outfielder where he is.

"When you think sometimes about optional assignments, it's really about playing every day," Mozeliak said. "And when you take into account what's going on here, and, of course, how that sort of parallels with what he's doing down there, I still think getting everyday at-bats is most important. … In some ways, we have a little bit of a logjam with playing time, and we're still just trying to sort that out."

That logjam was created by the recent promotion of Tommy Pham, and the decision to have Kolten Wong begin working in center field. Pham was scratched from Monday's starting lineup with right shoulder stiffness, and if that becomes an issue that lingers, it could create a window for Grichuk to return.

Grichuk, who opened the season as the Cardinals' starting center field, was optioned to Triple-A on June 18.

"I think when you look at how he performed when he was up here this year -- strikeout rate, walk rate are things we do focus on," Mozeliak said. "But clearly, just being able to put the ball in play and finding that power stroke -- I think he was having a hard time doing that, just because of the inconsistent play."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.