TORONTO — Newly acquired Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk didn't put his feet up in the off-season. Instead he bought a pitching machine.
The 26-year-old Texan got the machine the week he returned home and struck a deal with the owner of a local batting cage facility to allow him to use it whenever he wants.
"I've been in there four or five times a week, if not more," he told a media conference call Tuesday.
"You name it, it can throw it," he added. "There's actually a setting that goes random."
Grichuk, who struck out 133 times in 412 plate appearances last season, also took a vision training course.
"So I've been doing a lot of things to improve plate discipline," he said.
Toronto acquired Grichuk from St. Louis last week for pitchers Dominic Leone and Connor Greene, a prospect.
Grichuk appeared in 122 games for the Cardinals in 2017, batting .238, with 22 home runs, 59 RBI and an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .758. He played 57 games in left field, 55 games in right field and five in centre field. He reportedly made US$557,200 last season.
He said his preferred position is in right field and that he had been told by the Jays he would be given a chance to win the job.
His career batting average is .249, with 66 HR, 182 RBI, and an OPS of .785 in four seasons with St. Louis.
"I'm super-excited," he said of the trade. "I think the Blue Jays lineup on paper and pitching staff look amazing.
"I know there's a lot of hype on the Yankees but I think we have a good team and it's going to be a fun year."
Outfielder Curtis Granderson, a free-agent acquisition, was also enthusiastic about the Jays' lineup and chances.
"We're up there with everybody. Those are the reasons why I feel like we have the potential to do a lot of great things," he said in a separate conference call.
Granderson's arrival was first reported a week ago but the American League team made it official Tuesday. He will make $5 million in 2018.
The 36-year-old Granderson hit .212 in 2017 with 24 doubles, 26 home runs and an OPS of .775 in 147 games with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Chicago native, entering his 15th season in the majors, is a three-time all-star (2009, 2011, and 2012) and was the 2016 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award. The honour is given annually to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
Granderson previously played for the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees. The left-handed hitter has a career batting average of .252 with 319 homers.
With Kevin Pillar expected to remain the every-day centre-fielder, Granderson and Grichuk join holdovers Ezequiel Carrera and Steve Pearce in bidding for outfield playing time.
Toronto lost veteran right-fielder Jose Bautista to free agency.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press