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Wong's return creates crowded infield mix

Cards also have outfield questions with four capable players
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- As the first half officially comes to a close Sunday, there are many questions that the Cardinals will not have a clear answer to until after the All-Star break. Among those is what the future of the infield looks like with second baseman Kolten Wong scheduled to return following the break.

Wong is on a rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield, recovering from a right triceps strain, and will play in his last Minor League game Sunday. If all goes well, he will then rehab with the Cards over the break.

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ST. LOUIS -- As the first half officially comes to a close Sunday, there are many questions that the Cardinals will not have a clear answer to until after the All-Star break. Among those is what the future of the infield looks like with second baseman Kolten Wong scheduled to return following the break.

Wong is on a rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield, recovering from a right triceps strain, and will play in his last Minor League game Sunday. If all goes well, he will then rehab with the Cards over the break.

View Full Game Coverage

Before going on the 10-day DL for the second time in a month June 15, Wong was in the midst of a six-game hitting streak and is hitting .301.

The problem comes, however, with the emergence of first baseman Luke Voit offensively over the past few weeks -- .324/.378/.647 in 34 at-bats entering Sunday. Matt Carpenter has been moved from first to second to give Voit more at-bats, but that will not be as easy to do when Wong returns.

Video: NYM@STL: DeJong tallies four hits against the Mets

Rookie Paul DeJong has also performed well at shortstop, including going 4-for-4 with a homer and three doubles on Saturday against the Mets. Third baseman Jedd Gyorko has been one of the club's strongest offensive players through the first half, leading St. Louis in hits and batting average. Both are capable of playing elsewhere in the infield. With Wong's imminent return, it is unclear how the infield will shake up with five strong pieces.

"I think we'll have to obviously address that when it comes. Kolten's going to play again today and we need to make sure everything's going in a positive direction," manager Mike Matheny said. "After the break, we'll see where we sit, and we're already going through that now, with four guys in the outfield."

The outfield is another area of concern for St. Louis. With four capable starters in Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, the Cards have resorted to switching days off after Fowler returned from the DL on Friday. As Grichuk sat Sunday, the outfield rotation also remains an unsolved question for the second half.

"All four have shown reasons that they should be in there," Matheny said. "Just trying to keep them all moving in the direction, keep them all prepared and ready and kind of see where it plays out. Right now we're not drawing any conclusions."

Quick notes

Kevin Siegrist, also at Double-A Springfield, will pitch in his last rehab game Sunday.

• Before Sunday's series finale against the Mets, Matheny shared how he felt the team had performed in the first half and the optimism he has going forward, despite the team's record.

"I like a lot of things I've seen of our club lately and seeing some of that youthful excitement, bringing in a couple guys that we just didn't know would be a part of the club this year, being integral parts of what we're trying to do," Matheny said. "I see our bullpen, just look at the different components coming through. …

"What I see is opportunity. This could be one of the greatest seasons of any of those guys careers because of how much we've been written off. That to me is such an exciting thought about us putting something together and pushing hard and remembering all the things we've already gone through in half a season."

Alaina Getzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.

St. Louis Cardinals, Kolten Wong