Kolten Wong opened the 2014 season as the Cardinals’ starting second baseman, but he lost that job after batting .225/.276/.268 over his first 76 plate appearances and was officially demoted to Triple-A Memphis on April 27. It never seemed like it was going to be a long stay in the minors — Wong is a Top 100 prospect and has been a productive all-around player at every level of the Cards’ farm system. So the following comes as no surprise …
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch spoke to Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak on Tuesday evening, after Wong went 4-for-5 with a homer and three runs scored in a blowout victory for Triple-A Memphis:
Mark Ellis, who has been serving as the Cardinals’ primary second baseman, owns a .203/.273/.237 batting line in 66 plate appearances for the season. It doesn’t make much sense to keep Wong grounded.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉