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Just for starters: Wong projected to open at second base for Cardinals

December 18, 2013
By R.B. FALLSTROM , The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - Though Mark Ellis got a contract that pays starter money, the St. Louis Cardinals are planning for rookie Kolten Wong to be the regular second baseman next year.

Wong, a Kamehameha Schools Hawaii and University of Hawaii alumnus, batted just .132 in 59 at-bats and was embarrassed in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox when he got picked off first base to end Game 5.

Wong was a first-round pick in 2011 and climbed the system quickly, batting .303 last year at Triple-A Memphis with 10 home runs and 20 steals in 21 attempts.

Article Photos

Kolten Wong, a Kamehameha Schools Hawaii and University of Hawaii alumnus, hit .132 in 59 at-bats with the St. Louis Cardinals last season. He is expected to start at second base despite the acquisition of Mark Ellis, who was signed to a one-year, $5.25 million contract.
AP file photo

"I don't think you look at the sample size and try to judge that talent," general manager John Mozeliak said Tuesday. "We realize what he's capable of doing.

"Obviously, spring training has to happen," Mozeliak added. "But our goal was to give Kolten a very good opportunity to play."

Mozeliak said Ellis' one-year, $5.25 million deal was a product of competitive bidding for a player who'll help balance the lineup. The 36-year-old Ellis adds another right-handed bat to a team that was vulnerable against lefties and got shut down twice by Boston's Jon Lester in the World Series.

"I certainly think you have better odds today than you did yesterday," the GM said. "Everybody scratched their heads when we faced left-handed pitching with no definitive answers."

Ellis said Monday he turned down multiyear offers for a chance to win a World Series with the Cardinals.

"Part of that's market-driven," Mozeliak said. "Frankly, I'm fortunate we got him."

The Cardinals batted .280 against right-handers last season, third-best in the majors, but were 27th-best with a .238 average against lefties.

Last season, lefties neutralized Jon Jay (.220), Matt Adams (.231) and Daniel Descalso (.183), all left-handed hitters, and righty bat Pete Kozma (.183) also scuffled.

Ellis is a right-handed hitter and could platoon with the left-handed hitting Wong. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who got a four-year free-agent deal, and center fielder Peter Bourjos, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels, also bat from the right side.

"I think we really improved how we look from the right side," Mozeliak said. "We had to address some things in a very quick manner and I think we did that."



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