About two weeks ago, the Cardinals demoted Wong to Triple-A Memphis. Manager Mike Matheny’s explanation for the move would’ve made more sense had he muttered it while talking backwards. But general manager John Mozeliak conceded that the club had demoted Wong because other players with more seniority and higher pay weren’t hitting. The club wanted to provide the MLB roster with a jolt, which meant the rookie making the league minimum and with options to burn the most palatable to demote—it was the roster path of least resistance.
Wong was hitting an unimpressive .225/.276/.268 over 76 plate appearances at the time the Cardinals sent him on the Memphis shuttle to Triple-A. Today, veteran second-base options Mark Ellis and Daniel Descalso are still hitting worse than Wong did in the season’s opening month. Ellis is hitting an ugly .190/.268/.222 and Descalso has posted a .175/.214/.250. In a strange twist of fate Wong—who hit .344/.382/.484 with five stolen bases, 14 runs scored, and 10 RBI in 15 Triple-A games—has now become the very jolt the Cardinals sought with his earlier demotion.
The question that looms large over Wong’s return to St. Louis is whether Matheny will play the rookie regularly over veterans Ellis and Descalso. The manager has twice given up on Wong after meaninglessly small samples of work. With the Cardinals continuing to underperform, will Matheny have patience with Wong if he doesn’t hit right away and continue hitting into the summer?
UPDATE: Wong is ill and won't play, leaving the Cardinals one man down tonight.
Pause that Kolten Wong anticipation. He's sick (stomach flu) and has been sent home. #STLCards expect to play shorthanded tonight.— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) May 14, 2014