The injury that Randal Grichuk suffered back in late April couldn’t have come at a better time for a player who up to that point had looked completely lost at the plate. Watching Grichuk play those first four weeks of the season was a scary thought for Blue Jay fans. Here was a player that Toronto had pegged to be their right fielder of the future and after the first month of the season he’s hitting for a .106 AVG.
What happened with Grichuk at the beginning of his Blue Jays tenure was scary for several reasons. The first is that he’s completely out of options, so if the Blue Jays had sent him down to the minors, he’d first have to clear waivers and the chances of that happening would be slim. The second was, what do you do with a player hitting around .100 that you have to keep on your 25-man roster? The answer for the Blue Jays, at least prior to Grichuk’s injury, was to stick him on the bench.
The Blue Jays don’t have anyone coming up through the ranks capable of starting in right field for them, so it’s that much more important Grichuk started playing like someone you’d expect to be starting in your outfield. After trading away one of their top relievers (Dominic Leone) for Grichuk in January, I doubt the Blue Jays would be in the mood to trade for (or sign) another right fielder this off-season.
Having Grichuk in right field is almost like having a second Kevin Pillar in the outfield. It’s not hard to see that Grichuk is a very different type of outfielder compared to Jose Bautista or many of the best players who’ve played that position for Toronto over the years. Unlike Bautista, Grichuk has great range in the outfield and an impressive glove. His arm doesn’t quite match-up to that of Bautista, but with his solid speed and instincts, he definitely has to rank amongst the top defensive right fielders to ever play for the Blue Jays (And I don’t say that lightly).
Getting back to that poor start Grichuk had this year. Talk about a pressure…having to play for a new team as a 26-year old and you’re expected to replace an icon like Bautista. I’m not entirely sure how much that had to do with Grichuk’s early struggles, but it certainly couldn’t have helped. Hopefully now that he’s been with the team a little while and gotten those butterflies out of the way, he’ll be able to keep building on his good play of late and not leave any doubt as to who should be starting for the Blue Jays in right field moving forwards.