Wong ends spring skid, shows off potential
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Kolten Wong, who afterward admitted that the results took a "weight of my chest," snapped out of his spring skid with a three-hit afternoon on Friday, during which he showed off several reasons why the Cardinals want to give him the chance to stick as an everyday second baseman.
Wong not only tallied the three hits (including a double to deep center), but he stole a base, scored once, drove home two and made a pair of excellent defensive plays at second. It was all much needed positive results for the young infielder, ranked No. 2 on the Cards' Top 20 Prospects list, who entered the day hitless in 10 Grapefruit League at-bats.
"I'm always the guy who wants to succeed and who wants to continue to move forward," Wong said. "And when you don't see progress right away, it gets you a little frustrated."
Manager Mike Matheny sensed Wong getting tight, and earlier this week, he reminded him not to get overwhelmed by the results -- or in this case, the lack thereof. For Matheny, watching Wong deal with some early adversity was as much a part of the evaluation process as anything Wong will do from here on forward.
The Cardinals are using this spring to finalize how second base will be covered when the season opens. The club has veteran Mark Ellis available, but also wants to give Wong an opportunity to prove that he can be a long-term fit. Wong also wants to show that his first impression -- he batted .153 in 59 at-bats with the Cardinals last season -- is not indicative of his potential.
"I think Kolten, too, it's just been a good learning experience, that putting pressure on yourself that is undue is just a distraction," Matheny said. "You just play the game. It's the process; it's not the results. We talk about it a lot, and when it happens to you, I think it hits a little closer to home.
"He had a good day. I just have to remember to tell him for him to remember that how he feels right now, keep that expectation all the time when things are going rough."
Wong said an adjustment he made to get his front foot down a little earlier on his swing helped him shore up his timing on Friday.