The question with respect to Randal Grichuk's inclusion on the St. Louis Cardinals roster was playing time. Manager Mike Matheny started Grichuk once in the club's first 10 games. Grichuk notched 10 plate appearances between that start, pinch-hitting, and as a substitute. Now he will not get any playing time at all. Stan McNeal of Cardinals Gameday Magazine tweeted that the Cardinals placed Grichuk on the 15-day disabled list after Saturday's game due to a back injury he reportedly suffered in the weight room on Friday and promoted infielder Dean Anna to take his place on the bench.
That the Cardinals promoted an infielder is not particularly surprising. The contest for the last two bench spots ostensibly came down to infielder Pete Kozma and Ty Kelly and Grichuk. Jason Heyward took 648 of the 709 PAs that Atlanta right fielders made in 2014. Matt Holliday accounted for 639 of the 705 left-fielder PAs for the Cardinals a year ago. Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos combined for 629 of the 652 PAs notched by St. Louis center fielders last season. There just aren't that many outfield innings or at-bats to go around when it comes to the 2015 Cardinals. Hence Grichuk's 162-PA pace before his disabling. (As a point of comparison, Daniel Descalso totaled 184 PAs with St. Louis in 2014.)
Anna getting the promotion to St. Louis may seem surprising at first blush because the Cardinals optioned him to Triple-A before Kelly. That being said, Kelly ended spring training on a cold streak that has continued into the season. Kelly was hitting .160/.276/.200 in 29 Memphis PAs at the time the promotion decision was made. Anna has posted a .393/.433/.464 so far this young Triple-A season with the Redbirds. Further, Anna is more versatile—he can play shortstop; Kelly can't.
Anna gives the Cards a lefthanded-hitting bench bat as well.
For more information on Anna you can read our offseason analysis of him:
- Joe Schwarz: Introducing Dean Anna to the St. Louis Cardinals 40-man roster
- Eric Johnson: 40-man roster: Middle infield depth edition
That the Cardinals opted for an infielder in addition to Kozma and Mark Reynolds as opposed to an outfielder also indicates that the "mid back tightness" that led Matheny to remove Matt Holliday from Saturday's game for "precautionary reasons," in the words of the official @Cardinals tweet, is no reason for concern. Jim Hayes of Fox Sports Midwest tweeted after the game that Matheny stated that Holliday should be able to start Sunday night's game. If the Cardinals were at all worried about Holliday's ability to maintain his normal playing schedule due to the back issue that benched him early in Saturday's game it's unlikely they'd have opted for a third infielder instead of a fifth outfielder.
Correction: The original version of this post identified Stan McNeal's employer as Fox Sports Midwest. It appears McNeal no longer works for Fox Sports Midwest, but Cardinals Gameday Magazine.