Versatility may earn Wilson spot with Cards

Infielder moving all over diamond, including outfield

March 13th, 2016

VIERA, Fla. -- Cardinals infielder Jacob Wilson makes sure he is one of the first players into camp every morning to maximize one-on-one time with hitting coach John Mabry, as Wilson adjusts to his new batting stance.

While dissecting his swing during the offseason, Wilson saw that his legs were too spread out.

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"It was causing me to hit a lot of fly balls," Wilson said. "Now I'm more upright and now we're just trying to make sure everything's working like it should be with my body being taller."

Although he went 0-for-3 in Sunday's 4-4 tie with the Nationals, Wilson said he is starting to feel more comfortable. Within the past week, he's started to have improved at-bats and put better swings on the ball.

Wilson pushed for a spot on the roster last season after an impressive showing during his first Major League Spring Training, but started the season in the Minors and never got the promotion. The Cards moved him all over the diamond last year, giving him time at all four infield positions and some time in left field.

"It opened my eyes to, 'Hey, got to do all of them, can't just get there in one position,'" Wilson said.

So Wilson has also spent the spring trying to make himself into a utility player. In addition to second and third -- the positions he has played in all but four games in the Minors -- Wilson has been working at shortstop, left and right field.

"To make sure I can play anywhere and everywhere," he said. "And to make sure it's not one of those, 'Can he play that?' I want it to be, 'Yeah, we're comfortable with him doing that.'"

Adding versatility could improve Wilson's chances of earning a backup role, especially considering shortstop Jhonny Peralta is expected to be sidelined until midseason after undergoing thumb surgery.

"Making sure I can do as many possible things as I can," Wilson said. "Just because it makes you more valuable."