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Wong moves to center to help Cardinals

Returns to college position, has heart set on second base
Special to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Kolten Wong still sees himself as a second baseman, but understands why the Cardinals are giving him a look as a center fielder.

His speed and athleticism make him more valuable to the Cardinals, who'd like to give him a chance to play more often with Matt Carpenter making the bulk of starts at second. Wong, who played center field in college, made his second start in center for St. Louis on Tuesday against the Cubs. It's an idea that was hatched a couple games into Wong's recent stint with Triple-A Memphis.

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CHICAGO -- Kolten Wong still sees himself as a second baseman, but understands why the Cardinals are giving him a look as a center fielder.

His speed and athleticism make him more valuable to the Cardinals, who'd like to give him a chance to play more often with Matt Carpenter making the bulk of starts at second. Wong, who played center field in college, made his second start in center for St. Louis on Tuesday against the Cubs. It's an idea that was hatched a couple games into Wong's recent stint with Triple-A Memphis.

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"They said they wanted me to kind of broaden my horizons, and I was up for it," said Wong, who quickly was recalled after his bat came around in the Minors. "I wanted to go out there and do whatever they needed me to do, and that was it. They wanted me to be in center, so I'll do that for now, until something else comes about. But I'm definitely open for anything."

Manager Mike Matheny likes what he's seen from Wong in center field, even with it being a very small sample size. He doesn't anticipate many issues with the adjustment to the middle of the outfield, primarily because Wong's speed can help him compensate for misjudged fly balls.

"The way he runs, he's going to be able to cover ground," Matheny said. "You think of some parks, like in San Francisco, where you have a real deep right-center, and left-center plays big, too, those are typically games where you need somebody who can make up for maybe some bad jumps with speed."

Wong is that kind of player. He realizes it, too, which is why he's a willing participant in the experiment.

"I think it's going to be cool to be out in center, because I can kind of let my speed take over," Wong said. "I still love second and still have a passion for second base, but I know I'll be there again pretty soon. I think I'm too good of a second baseman [to switch full time], but in the situation right now, center's where I need to be."

Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.

St. Louis Cardinals, Kolten Wong