Wong working on being more aggressive on bases

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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Kolten Wong has six steals during spring training — two shy of his total during the 2017 season.

“I figure if I can get into that rhythm now, I won’t be able to lose it too fast when the season starts,” the St. Louis Cardinals second baseman from Hilo said. “Obviously things kind of get drawn back a little bit.”

Wong has 53 regular-season stolen bases, including 20 in 2014. At one point projected at leadoff hitter, he likely will bat eighth when the season starts.

“I think I can still be aggressive — balls in the dirt, going first to third, different situations,” Wong said.

He knows he needs to get on base more. He’s hitting .176 this spring after going 1-for-2 with a walk in Thursday’s 8-2 win over Atlanta.

“Just an understanding of who I am as a player kind of brings that sense of calmness,” Wong said. “Now I’m not trying to figure out what I want to be or what type of player I need to be now. I know what I can be — what makes me the most successful — and I’m sticking to it.”

Manager Mike Matheny notices the difference.

“I think he’s handling things better, and to me that’s maturity,” Matheny said.

Wong hit a career-high .285 last year but had just four homers — his lowest total for a full season — and eight stolen bases.

“Whenever I get my time to steal, wherever I am in the lineup, I’m going to go,” he said. “I’m not going to be afraid or anything — just be aggressive and play the game.”