Was an elongated DL stint and a team falling out of contention all that Randal Grichuk needed to find his bat for the Toronto Blue Jays? It would appear so, as Grichuk has turned around his season offensively since his activation just twelve days ago, in a change only paralleled by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
So the question becomes: What can the Blue Jays fans expect from their supposed can’t miss, everyday right fielder?
Hopefully not the Grichuk of April, would generally be the consensus from Blue Jays fans. In 22 games in April Grichuk’s stats were abysmal – 0.89 AVG, .197 OBP, 3 extra base hits, 6 RBIs, 6 Walks and 21 strikeouts. Wow. Ending that month on an even worse note, Grichuk was sent to the ever unpredictable 10-day DL on April 30th for a mild knee sprain. The positive in this? Grichuk was injured on a terrific defensive play that saw him recover from a stumble in the outfield to make an unlikely catch.
And there it was – the heart you want to see from your team’s players. The desire to make in impact any way they can. Grichuk was well aware of his offensive struggles but he never gave up on his ability to play the outfield well. So off to the DL, and after the initial injury rehab the game reports started to come in:
“Randal Grichuk (knee) went 0-for-2 with two walks and two strikeouts in his first rehab game Tuesday with High-A Dunedin.”
“Randal Grichuk (knee) hit a two-run homer and played six innings in right field Wednesday in a rehab game with High-A Dunedin”
“Randal Grichuk (knee) hit a two-run homer Wednesday in his first rehab game with Triple-A Buffalo”
Grichuk was starting to look like himself in the minors – high strikeout, but power to balance it out with an average in the mid-low .200s. Realistically thats all Toronto needs from him, to be a lower in the line up guy who can add some pop to the order. Now that he has returned from the disabled list it appears he may be able to bring that to the Blue Jays line up!
Since June 1st (when he was activated) Grichuk has settled in nicely with a .357 average including three multi hit games, two coming against Baltimore and the other against Detroit. He has racked up three home runs upon returning, one more that he had before going on the DL, and has 8 RBIs as well, one more that before his injury.
These numbers are from a small sample size and are probably a little too high for Grichuk to maintain but for the time being they are helping resurrect a miserable start to the season for Grichuk, who has had to sacrifice a beautiful full head of hair along the way in an effort to appease the baseball gods.
It appears to have worked as his offensive game is back but honestly it seems like more of a mental adjustment that has positively effected Grichuk more than anything else. He was brought in during a notably depressing off season for Jays fans, and was being sold as an everyday right fielder to build around for the transitioning Blue Jays. Rather than being the cornerstone to the outfield, he looked lost at the plate and overwhelmed by expectations. Now the pressure is off and Grichuk looks like he’s having fun playing the game – something devoid from his game early this season.