(photo: Kolten Wong/Steve Mitchell/USA Today)
In Springfield on Wednesday night, St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong began his first of four games making up his rehab assignment at Double-A Springfield.
Wong, 26, has been held out of action since June 14 with a right triceps strain which he initially injured during a rehab appearance on June 8 at Low-A Peoria, attempting to return from a left elbow injury that sidelined him for 13 games. Overall, the right-hander hitter is slashing .301/.393/.444 with one homer and 19 RBI through 153 at-bats (47 games) this season.
Barring injury, Wong is expected to play five innings on Wednesday night, progress to seven innings on Thursday, rest Friday, and finish out his rehab with two full games on Saturday and Sunday. As always, these are tentative plans as his status will be re-assessed daily.
Below is a transcript from Wong’s presser before Wednesday night’s game. In the media session, he discusses the injury and rehab plan along with much more.
Kolten Wong: “It has been one of those things where one thing led to another. It has been kind of frustrating knowing I have been working on one thing, and it goes to my forearm first. Then my elbow and now my triceps.
“It was weird how it all strung together, but I am glad it is all done and back to playing baseball now.”
MM: How much have you been able to work in the field, work in the cage before coming here to Springfield?
KW: “Probably this past week and weekend, I have been going with the team, taking groundballs and taking BP (batting practice) and doing things just to kind of get ready.”
MM: What is the plan this week? Do you know exactly how many you are getting into to? The plan trying to get back to the big-leagues?
KW: “Yeah, I will probably be here until Sunday. From there on, they want to give me an All-Star break to give me that chance to give everything to relax before the second half. So, I think here until Sunday, you know, have a good couple of days off and then back to the grind.”
MM: Those two stints on the DL and the team hovering around .500 and trying to catch the Cubs and the Brewers. How do you describe the first half of the season so far?
KW: “It has been a crazy first half. I think the guys in the clubhouse we all know how good we are. We understand that we haven’t been playing our best baseball yet. To be where we are at right now knowing we are way better than what we have been doing.
“It is definitely exciting for all us. We are coming in every day excited knowing we still are not playing really good, but we are still right in the thick of things. So, everyone is excited and ready to go. Just waiting for everybody to start clicking together.”
MM: How anxious have you been to be able to contribute more yourself as kind of getting back into the playoff race?
KW: “Yeah, especially going through this injury right now. You are sitting on the bench and seeing these guys grinding away, winning some tough games. It definitely lights a fire under you to know that, ‘Man, I want to get back there to help these guys.'”
“They have been doing everything they can to get us victories. Keep us close. I want to do what I can to help, too.
MM: You already alluded to the plan but is the plan to play a full game tonight and then how does that progressing in this rehab assignment?
KW: “It is going to be five innings tonight. Probably seven tomorrow. I think they were talking about a day off the next day and then two nines. I am guessing that is what it is going to be. We will see what happens.”
MM: Baseball-wise, what are you hoping to get done in those innings that you play here?
KW: “Just get back into it. It is definitely going to be different not playing for a month and then coming back. It is a pretty lengthy layoff, but baseball is not going to change. Go out there and play the game as hard as I can.
“Try to help this team win down here.”
MM: Outside of baseball, is there anything you want to do while you are back in Springfield?
KW: “I didn’t really know what there was to do here. I was here strictly for baseball when I was here. Just enjoy being back here. I had a great time when I was here. Then see what it is about.
“Like you said, find out some different things and Bass Pro. That is all I have done down here.”
MM: One of your teammates here Carlos Martinez making it to the All-Star along with Yadi. Just talk about those two guys and what they mean to this organization?
KW: “Those two guys are kind of, they are it right now for us. They have been carrying this team, and obviously, we play with other guys, but to see what Yadi has done every single year we all expect him to make the All-Star game. You expect them to be good.
“To see Carlos and the progressions he has made as a pitcher and just growing up, in general. The guy is a stud now. He knows it. He expects it. He carries himself with that chip on his shoulder. When he has that, we understand what he can do for our team.”
MM: A lot of young players have been stepping up while you have been out. What does that to do your compete level and what have you seen from that?
KW: “That is what it is about. This game is all about competition, and the guys have been coming in and definitely stepping up and doing what they can do, but everybody knows what I can do as well. It is kind of hard to match.
“I am confident in what I can bring to the table. I am just happy those guys came in and did what they could do to help the team win.”
MM: Does seeing Carp playing second base have any impact on you or change your approach anything like that?
KW: “Absolutely not, no. It is at a point where if that is the route they go, then that is the route to go. I will be ready to come back and do whatever they need me to do. It is time to win. We are this close to being a playoff team.
“If that is the route that we are going to go, let’s do it. I will be ready to go to be the guy I need to be to help the team get some victories.”
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