ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- In the final interview of Sunday’s Winter Warm-Up, Randal Grichuk dropped the day’s biggest bit of news.
The 25-year-old, who will likely move from center to left field this season, revealed he had surgery on his left knee at season’s end to address a problem that plagued him nearly all year.
“Honestly I don’t remember when it first started hurting,” Grichuk said, after casually revealing the procedure while discussing his offseason training. “I remember getting treatment done early May, end of April, I started getting treatment. Then pretty much throughout the year.”
The announcement came as a surprise, as there was no indication Grichuk was in any pain and GM John Mozeliak made no mention of the surgery when asked about offseason medical updates.
Near the end of the season, the outfielder mentioned a clicking in his knee, but didn’t elaborate. As it turns out, the situation was a lot more uncomfortable than he let on.
“Yeah there was a lot going on. Clicking, soreness, tightness. Kind of pain throughout the year. It was good to get that looked at at the end of the year and get that cleaned up,” he said.
Doctors performed arthroscopic surgery on his knee to clean out floating cartilage. He then endured a month and a half of rehab and physical therapy.
He is back to full-speed running and plans to enter spring on a normal schedule with no limitations. Still, it’s unclear from his answers what the damaged knee stole from his ability last season.
“You know that’s a tough question to answer. It definitely bothered me throughout the year. It affected me here and there, but it is what it is,” he said.
Grichuk’s offense surged in the late months, as he batted .284 in August and .270 in September and October. He hit 12 homers over that span, pushing his season total to 24. He credits that success to more regular work, saying consistent playing time allowed him time to find his swing. Undergoing a surgery and six-week rehab just when he found his stride wouldn’t make sense, but a compromised knee can affect everything from pursuit angles to swing follow through.
For a second straight season, one of the Cardinals’ most intriguing talents had an artificial ceiling on his performance. After 2015’s back, arm and sports hernia issues, 2016 forced Grichuk to drive with a busted wheel.
With rehab complete, 2017 could be the first hindrance-free year for the slugger. His production the last two seasons should make that an exciting prospect. The fact he’s yet to experience sustained health makes it much more of a prospect than a certainty.