ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Randal Grichuk excited to play at home for Diamondbacks, working back from ankle surgery

Feb 18, 2024, 1:42 PM

Randal Grichuk...

Randal Grichuk #15 formerly of the Colorado Rockies against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 13, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE — Outfielder Randal Grichuk was present at Salt River Fields on Sunday after agreeing to terms with the Arizona Diamondbacks on a new contract.

For Grichuk the opportunity to play near his home and for an aspiring postseason contender drew him to the D-backs, considering he has not played a playoff game since 2020.

But it will take some time to get on the field in a game, as the 32-year-old is a month removed from surgery to address bone spurs in his right ankle.

“It’s been off-and-on for a while,” Grichuk said of the discomfort. “This offseason, it flared up enough to get imaging and get a look at it. Sure enough, smart minds said, ‘You should get something done.’ I figured I’d rather do it now and miss a little of spring than miss the season.”

Grichuk says he’s been progressing, starting to run a little bit last week and playing catch with plans to take swings this week. He’ll monitor how the ankle feels when he ramps up the intensity over the coming weeks with Opening Day on March 28. The veteran expects to be ready for Opening Day if no setbacks or flare ups occur.

He initially figured the discomfort came from typical aches and pains from playing for so long. Grichuk has 10 years of MLB experience and spent 2022 and most of 2023 with the Colorado Rockies before a trade to the Los Angeles Angels last July.

“This offseason, I really tried to increase my mobility,” Grichuk said. “That kind of, I think, shifted some of the bone spurs to the point where it bothered me more than it has in the past. So we just decided to get it done.”

Grichuk joins an outfield corps with Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Joc Pederson and Jake McCarthy, providing right-handed punch. He was clear on his role to hit lefties and be available for opportunities if players get banged up. As general manager Mike Hazen put it, Grichuk has “mashed lefties” throughout his career (.822 OPS versus .735 against righties).

The outfielder has discussed starting in a designated hitter role to limit the running early.

Grichuk had sports hernia surgery ahead of last season in Colorado that forced him to miss approximately the first month of games. He felt the injury impacted his defense — he played all three outfield spots but finished the year with -1 defense runs saved and -7 outs above average.

He’s been a plus defender for much of his career and is optimistic looking at 2024 after dealing with his ankle.

“Coming off the sports hernia surgery, never really hit the ground running,” Grichuk said. “But I did finish the year in Anaheim, changed some pre-pitch setup and how I approached the pitch and the play. My numbers went up drastically. So I’m really excited to implement what I did last year to a full season.”

The first-time free agent had been in communication with the D-backs throughout offseason, but talks heated up in the past couple weeks, he said. The D-backs signed Pederson in January to add left-handed pop to the middle of the lineup and saw the need for depth on the other side of the batter’s box.

Grichuk said multiple teams were interested this offseason, but the D-backs were an appealing fit.

“I’ve played in Colorado the last two years and I admired this team, the way they play the game,” Grichuk said. “They play the game hard. They run ground balls out, fly balls out, they finish the play. I came up with the Cardinals and that’s kind of the way they preach and teach and I feel like a lot of players and teams have started playing more of a relaxed game and I like intensity, I like to hustle.”

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