Jhonny Peralta is set to make his season debut for the Cardinals, and his arrival means a demotion for a St. Louis regular.
The Cards plan to reinstate Peralta from the disabled list in time for Tuesday's game in Cincinnati. On Monday, they cleared the roster space to do so, optioning Kolten Wong, the team's primary second baseman for almost three seasons, to Triple-A Memphis.
There simply isn't going to be much playing time going forward for Wong, who is hitting .222/.306/.286 in 144 plate appearances, with the return of Peralta bumping reigning National League Player of the Week Matt Carpenter to second base.
The emergence of rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who is hitting .328 as Peralta's replacement, gave St. Louis a logjam of four infielders for three starting spots. Peralta will be moving to third base, where he hasn't played since 2010.
Diaz seized the job after Peralta tore a ligament in his left thumb during Spring Training. Peralta has hit 38 home runs over his first two seasons in St. Louis. He went 6-for-26 in nine rehab games across three Minor League levels.
Wong appeared poised to evolve into an All-Star-type player after he followed up his third-place finish in the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Award voting with a dynamic first half in '15. He hit .280/.343/.434 with nine home runs and 10 stolen bases in the first 77 games of last season, sprinkling in several dazzling plays at second base.
But Wong's production fell off significantly in the second half. He hit .238/.292/.322 in the second half, went 2-for-14 in the NL Division Series and had managed just four extra-base hits in 126 at bats so far in 2016.
The Cardinals opted to demote Wong over infielder Greg Garcia, who is serving a utility role and is seen as less of an everyday player long-term.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.