Randal Grichuk has been limited to pinch-hitting duties — for the most part — since being activated from the disabled list on September 6. He did draw one start in center field on September 9 but couldn’t even make simple throws back into the infield, so the Cardinals haven’t tried that since.
But it does sound like he is finally nearing the point where he can return to everyday-player status.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday that Grichuk has extended his pregame throwing to 90 feet. “Significant carry,” said the Cardinals skipper. “He’s about at that spot where he can hit a cutoff man wherever we put him in the outfield. As a viable option, he’s getting close.”
Grichuk, 23, boasts an .896 OPS (138 OPS+) with 16 home runs and 46 RBI in 92 games this season for the National League Central-leading Cardinals.
The Angels are going to be without their primary setup man for at least a week, and possibly the remainder of the regular season.
Joe Smith sprained his left ankle Saturday while walking down a flight of eight marble steps at the Angels’ team hotel in Minnesota. X-rays turned up negative for any fractures, but Smith was in a walking boot and crutches on Sunday.
“Joe is a huge part of our bullpen,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. “A huge part of what we need to do. It’s tough. It creates a void when he’s not there.”
Look for 23-year-old Trevor Gott to handle most of the eighth-inning looks ahead of closer Huston Street. Fernando Salas could also work into that mix, though he’s struggled over the last couple of weeks.
Smith, 31, owns a 3.71 ERA and 54/19 K/BB ratio in 63 innings this season for the Angels, who are just one game back of the Astros for the second American League Wild Card entering play Sunday.
Albert Pujols carried a career-high 0-for-25 hitless streak into his fourth-inning at-bat Saturday night at Target Field and then jokingly asked for the baseball to be preserved and authenticated when he singled through the left side of the infield.
You can watch the video over at MLB.com.
Twins starter Mike Pelfrey was confused at first, then seemed to get the joke, and then obliged the request.
It made for some good theatre in the second half of a doubleheader that Anaheim won 5-2. The Angels also took the first game Saturday and are still very much alive in the American League Wild Card race.