Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Kolten Wong is giving outfield a chance

After a demotion, Wong is giving an old position a new try.

Kolten Wong was demoted by the St. Louis Cardinals last week, but may return as a viable option in the outfield.

Wong, 25, played his first professional innings as a center fielder Monday for the Memphis Redbirds. The team kept him there on Tuesday, as well. Wong played outfield as a freshman at the University of Hawaii, but moved to second base before his sophomore season and has not returned since. The Cardinals drafted Wong in the first round of the 2011 draft, and he was in the big leagues by 2013.

Wong started 150 games for St. Louis in 2015, and the Cardinals inked him to a five-year, $25.5 million extension this spring. But he struggled at the plate, hitting .222/.306/.286 in 49 games. When shortstop Jhonny Peralta came back from injury, Wong became the odd man out in the infield. The team wasn't going to take rookie Aledmys Diaz (currently boasting a .315/.359/.509 line) or two-time All-Star Matt Carpenter (.284/.397/.550) out of the lineup. Instead, manager Mike Matheny slid Carpenter from third base to second, inserted Peralta at third and kept Diaz at short.

Wong is hitting .417 with four homers in just six games for Memphis, so he's likely to return to the majors soon. Center field has been a glaring weakness for the Cardinals all season, with Randal Grichuk hitting just .210 and backups Jeremy Hazelbaker and Tommy Pham not faring any better. St. Louis has the lowest batting average at the position of all National League teams.

The Cardinals, currently 9.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs, could use a spark if they want to make a run, and Wong could be just what they need.


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