St. Louis Cardinals: Randal Grichuk’s Groin Pains


Just imagine how much this must have hurt St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk, who was playing with a sports hernia at the time. Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Lost in all the commotion about Yadier Molina‘s second thumb surgery this week was news of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk‘s sports hernia surgery. Sounds like it might impact his athleticism in 2016. Will it?

From a brief December 16 Fox Sports report on the matter: 

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"Good news, however, for the St. Louis Cardinals, as the expected recovery time should have Grichuk ready to play before the start of spring training.“We don’t see this as something that’s going to slow him up,” general manager John Mozeliak told about Grichuk’s surgery.In his brief major-league career, Grichuk has dealt with with several injuries, including two back injuries, an elbow injury along with the sports hernia.“He’s a very athletic player, and how he’s used and how he’s preparing is something, I think, we have to be on the forefront of getting him ready to do,” Mozeliak said."

According to WebMD, sports hernias are pretty hard to diagnose because the injuries tend to be constant, lingering ache, not some sudden, debilitating pain. So, as a result, you see a lot of athletes — trained in the fine art of “toughness” — playing through pain, weakness and and soreness that would have the rest of us calling in sick for days on end. (I would, at least.)

Suddenly, Randal Grichuk’s slashline from last season (.276/.329/.548) looks even better. You try hitting big league fastballs with balky privates and see how you do.

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano and Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion have also gotten sports hernia surgery this offseason. In light of the St. Louis Cardinals herniating themselves on the trade and free agency market this winter, I propose that Randal Grichuk is even more crucial to his team.

Go ahead and put the St. Louis Cardinals through that Steamers projection thingy on FanGraphs, and it spits out Randal Grichuk as the team’s leading home run hitter and a 1.8-WAR player. Hmm. I think he’ll beat those projections, mostly because Grichuk has yet to get a full-season’s worth of opportunity with the St. Louis Cardinals.

I’m a little concerned because his WAR value would be higher if not for his defense, according to the Steamer projections anyway. He’s going to need every ounce of his athleticism to cover ground in the outfield for the St. Louis Cardinals next year. Sports hernias are core muscle injuries, really, with lots of different muscles involved. Full recovery is pretty much a matter of following a disciplined core training regimen, which a lot of MLBers do over the offseason anyway.

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Hopefully, Grichuk builds up a nice, strong core that helps prevent any more sports hernias from happening to him. Because when your core muscles are hurt, it messes up everything. Your swing. Your range in the field. Your spitting distance when you’re gnawing on sunflower seeds.

Randal Grichuk played well with a sports hernia last year. But the St. Louis Cardinals need him to be even better in 2016.