Kolten Wong, a former first-round draft pick and one of the brightest prospects the Cardinals have had in recent years, no longer is their regular second baseman. He will be the second baseman for the Memphis Redbirds.
Wong hadn’t started five of the last eight games, giving way either to Jedd Gyorko or Greg Garcia and his average had dropped to .222. On Monday, the Cardinals optioned him to Memphis as they activated shortstop Jhonny Peralta (left thumb surgery) from the disabled list before their game in Cincinnati on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals intend to play Peralta at third base, with third baseman Matt Carpenter moving to second and Aledmys Diaz staying at shortstop. Garcia, impressive since being brought back from Memphis, will remain as a utility player.
General manager John Mozeliak, however, said Wong’s option was potentially a “short-term” one and said the club had not given up on the 25-year-old, who was given a $25.5 million, five-year contract this spring.
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“Obviously, we made the investment,” said Mozeliak. “I do see him at some point getting that job back.”
Wong, on Sunday night, sensed that he might be sent back to the minors for a second time in three seasons.
“Hey, if it is, it is,” he said. “If they feel like they need to put me down there to figure something out ...’’
Wong will get at least some steady at-bats that way, and he said Sunday, “That would be good. Whatever they decide, I’ll be ready for.”
In 2014, Wong was sent to Memphis for three weeks and hit .344, spring-boarding himself back to the big leagues and he finished the year with 12 homers and 20 steals at the major league level.
“It (stinks) hitting where I am, so I’m going to do whatever I can to put in the work to get back to where I need to be,” said Wong, who had 11 homers and 15 stolen bases last year while batting .262.
Wong didn’t have consecutive starts in the last 10 days and he said, “Just to get into the rhythm of playing every day would help anyone. I have no say in what’s going to happen and I don’t think I deserve any kind of say right now.”
He said he was confident that, in time, there would be a course correction. “Once I get right, everything will be back to normal,” he said.
But he added, “I don’t deserve to be playing right now.”
Mozeliak said that it wasn’t so much what had gone wrong with Wong.
“With what’s happening right now with our roster, it would be difficult to get him everyday at-bats,” said Mozeliak. “For him to continue his development and growth, it makes more sense for him to go down and play every day.”