Kolten Wong is still dealing with a shoulder injury that he sustained while playing left field at Wrigley last year.
Spring training has been nothing short of dramatic for the St. Louis Cardinals so far this year, with top prospect Alex Reyes finding out on the first day of spring workouts that he’d have to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. The plot twists continued on Saturday afternoon, as second baseman Kolten Wong told reporters that he’s still dealing with shoulder soreness stemming from an awkward fall while he was playing left field at Wrigley Field last September:
Wong underwent an MRI but has been told that the injury in its current form does not require surgery. He was held out of the Cardinals’ first spring training game, though, so his status will be interesting to monitor as the spring progresses.
Wong’s ongoing shoulder soreness obviously is the most worrisome in the sense that it could lead to another lost season, which is not at all what he wants after posting career worsts in average (.240) and slugging percentage (.355), spending time in Triple-A, and being forced to play the outfield in order to get playing time during the first season of a five-year, $25.5 million-dollar deal in 2016.
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If Wong ends up missing time or is sore to the point where it adversely affects his performance for a prolonged period, the Cardinals have a few solid backup options. For starters, their team leader in home runs during 2016, Jedd Gyorko, is set to come off the bench this year and could easily slide into a starting role again. Greg Garcia posted a spectacular .393 OBP last season and would also be an intriguing replacement at that position. While it wouldn’t be ideal from a defensive standpoint, Matt Carpenter could also move back to second base with Matt Adams becoming the everyday first baseman.
Finally, prospect Paul DeJong is expected to begin 2017 in Triple-A, and he could potentially fill a big-league role at some point during the season. He’s mainly been a third baseman to this point, but he’s in the process of converting to shortstop, and one would assume that if he has the range to succeed at short, he’d be just fine at second base.
Even if he’s unable to play there for some reason, the Cardinals have enough infield flexibility with Carpenter, Gyorko, and Garcia to field a competent starting infield featuring DeJong.