Wong rejoins Cardinals; G. Garcia sent to Memphis
Second baseman batted .344 and stole five bases in 15 games since being sent down
ST. LOUIS -- Having met the Cardinals' checklist of requests during a two-week demotion to Triple-A, Kolten Wong returned to St. Louis on Wednesday only to find himself almost immediately sent away.
This time, it would be temporary.
Shortly after arriving at Busch Stadium, Wong came down a stomach illness and was sent home to keep from potentially spreading his sickness in the clubhouse. He has, however, already been officially recalled by the Cardinals, who are ready to insert him back into the starting lineup as soon as he is healthy.
Had Wong not been sick and the game not postponed due to rain, he would have been in the lineup Wednesday.
"He looked like he had accomplished what we needed him to accomplish," manager Mike Matheny said of Wong's time in the Minors. "We'll get him back and see how it goes. Hopefully he stays in a good groove and can help us improve."
Wong, who is ranked as the Cardinals' second-best prospect, was sent back to Memphis on the heels of a 4-for-28 stretch during which he lost his swing. With the Cardinals struggling to score runs at the time, the organization thought it best to unplug Wong and allow him time to get right in Triple-A.
He found comfort with his swing almost immediately upon joining Memphis and finished with a .382/.484/.867 slash line, 14 runs scored and 10 RBIs in 15 Triple-A games. Wong was also 5-for-5 in stolen-base attempts.
The Cardinals appear committed to letting Wong have an extended chance to start at second base to see if he can maintain that positive momentum. Mark Ellis will still get some starts (mostly against left-handers), but the Cardinals do want another opportunity to see what they have in Wong.
He hit so well in Triple-A that Matheny said he isn't hesitant to bat Wong in the No. 2 hole immediately.
"We believe in what he's doing right now," Matheny said. "He went and did what we asked him to do -- which was figure out his swing and get locked back in and come back here and try and jump in like he was in the beginning."
To make room for Wong on the 25-man roster, the Cardinals optioned infielder Greg Garcia, a day after he took a pitch off his elbow to force in a game-winning run. Matheny said that the "wheels were in motion" to make the roster move before Tuesday's game.
Though Garcia had just two hits during his first big league stint, he posted a .429 on-base percentage in 14 plate appearances.
"His versatility really makes him somebody that we're excited about and that could potentially help us in the future," Matheny said. "We gave him some small things to work on, as well, and [told him to] just stay the course. He's one of those guys that nobody put real high on that prospect list. I don't think many people give him credit for the versatility, the baseball IQ. He's a ballplayer. He plays the game in all aspects very well. Good to see a kid like that be rewarded with this opportunity. I believe we'll see him again."