When he was picked off first base in Game 4 of the 2013 World Series, it marked a baserunning gaffe any rookie or veteran might make. It just happened in an important playoff game.
Wong let the mistake fester, and combined with a shoulder injury the end result was an opening month to forget. Soon he was optioned to Triple-A Memphis, and it looked like Wong’s season was shot.
Doesn’t that seem like so long ago?
Wong is not only firmly entrenched in the St. Louis lineup, he is one of the big bats the Cardinals will rely on to win the National League Central once again.
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Forget his .185 batting average for a bit. Spring stats don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. After all, Wong hit .375 last spring before his early-season struggles set in. It’s what you do in the regular season and the postseason that counts more.
Wong is 25 years old, so he has plenty of time to get his mechanics in order. The best part this year is he won’t have to look over his shoulder. The Cardinals brought in Mark Ellis last year to speed Wong’s progress along, but Ellis didn’t hit and proved to be no legitimate threat to Wong’s long-term status.
This season is a different story. Wong is no longer the prospect that is garnering plenty of attention. He is now one of the guys, albeit one expected to carry the load as the Cardinals open up the regular season.
The less pressure on Wong, the better off he will be. So don’t be surprised if Wong opens the season on a tear.