Former Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong is making his long awaited return to Busch Stadium, this time as an opponent with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Corbin Burnes vs. Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. The St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen against Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers lineup. Adam Wainwright making perhaps his final home opener start at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals’ matchup against the Brewers offers many intriguing storylines, perhaps none more so than Kolten Wong squaring off against his former team for the first time.
Wong, of course, established himself as one of baseball’s premiere defensive second basemen in his 10 years in St. Louis. He racked up Gold Gloves and was a large reason the team’s infield was so good for so long. Of course, his offense didn’t always match his defensive abilities and was largely inconsistent at the plate.
It was a primary reason why the Cardinals front office felt confident they could sign Wong to a more team-friendly deal after declining his $10.5 million club option. But the Brewers, who did not expect Wong to become available, quickly made it known that they were interested in signing him to play second base and were able to land him on a heavily deferred multi-year deal.
Now, Wong is hours away from facing off against his old team for the first time — and he has made it clear how much he is looking forward to it.
“Absolutely. I think that chip has always been on my shoulder regardless of it’s from a team or from anybody,” Wong said, via Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “I just think like whenever you kind of get let go from an organization or anything, it kind of leaves that impression in your mind that you know how good you are and they probably thought you weren’t good enough. It’s definitely something that’s going to be in the back of my head every single time I go back and give me that little extra motivation to play a little harder and do a little more. But at the end of the day I know how to compete with the best of them. … I’m excited just to go out there and show them what they lost.”
Losing Wong, of course, enabled the Cardinals to have the financial flexibility to add a player like Arenado. But Wong makes the Brewers a much stronger team, especially defensively and atop the lineup, and is a player the Brewers hope allows them to compete — and overtake — the Cardinals for the division.