ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have had no shortage of slow-starting hitters this season, though their efforts to pull them out of their respective funks have varied.
For Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta -- a pair of hitters with proven track records at the Major League level -- the Cardinals have afforded them the opportunity to hit out of skids. Kolten Wong was sent back to Triple-A Memphis to do so, with the club believing everyday at-bats could help Wong get back on track.
Peter Bourjos finds himself stuck in a spot in between.
He remains on the big league club but without clarity of role or playing time to come. The Cardinals' need for offense prompted manager Mike Matheny to ride Jon Jay through his hot streak. Jay has recently cooled, but now it's Randal Grichuk (like Bourjos, a right-handed hitter) who is getting a look.
Grichuk made his first career start on Tuesday and collected his first Major League hit in his second-inning at-bat.
"It's tough to get in a rhythm," said Bourjos. "Any time you're in and out of it, it's not an easy thing to go through. But the team, offensively, hasn't been producing like we know it can. Obviously, somebody has to take less playing time to get the rhythm going, and it's been me so far."
Bourjos entered Tuesday hitless in his last 16 at-bats, a stretch that goes back to April 15. In that span, Bourjos has only made three starts, forcing him to try and get right without the playing time typically needed to do so. That said, Bourjos also believes his swing isn't that far from where it needs to be for him to contribute.
That's why, though he is taking extra swings in the batting cage to try and stay sharp, Bourjos is not trying to overhaul his mechanics at the same time.
"I think you try to go in there every at-bat and not change too much," Bourjos said. "When you're not in the lineup, a lot of guys start changing stuff. You've got to stay consistent with your approach and what you work on in the cage. In the past, when I've been in and out of the lineup, I've sat there and tried to change so many different things. That's the worst thing you can do. I think you want to be as calm in the box as you can, and be simple."
While the Cardinals were excited to acquire the defensively sound center fielder in a November trade, the club has not indicated if and when it intends to get Bourjos back into the regular mix in center.
"Basically, the assignment for us is to be as honest with him as possible, and our thought process is we have to get you going, but we have to get our club going too," Matheny said. "And if we have an opportunity to bring a player [i.e. Grichuk] in that can give us a jolt, we're going to make a shot at it."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less