Wong adjusting to new role off Cards' bench

Wong adjusting to new role off Cards' bench

Wong adjusting to new role off Cards' bench

ST. LOUIS -- Before this year, Kolten Wong could count the number of times he had pinch-hit on one hand.

But now, as part of the Cardinals' bench, the 22-year-old second baseman is pinch-hitting regularly, though he's yet to see the kind of results expected from a player who hit .301 through three years in the Minors.

"It's a different animal," Wong said. "I've never done it in my entire career, so coming up and being put in this situation, it's something that's been a learning process and something that's really been a key for me to learn how to adjust."

Wong snapped an 0-for-16 skid Sunday, recording his first hit at Busch Stadium and first as a pinch-hitter.

"I knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of time," Wong said. "Going out there day-in, day-out not getting a hit was frustrating but now that it's out of the way, I can kind of relax a little. But I've still got a lot of work to do."

Wong arrived in the big leagues to split time with third baseman David Freese. The Cardinals often employed Wong against right-handed pitching, sliding Matt Carpenter over from second to third base when Wong replaced Freese in the lineup. But with Wong's struggles at the plate -- he's hit .163 (8-for-49) since his Aug. 16 debut -- that platoon situation has vanished, with Freese resuming his role as an everyday player and Wong being relegated to the bench.

"I don't want to make excuses," Wong said. "It's a tough situation, but then again, I was brought up here knowing that Matt Carpenter is up here. He's been doing amazing, and you know, I knew for a fact that I wasn't going to be an everyday starter knowing that he's here. Just coming up here and getting a chance to watch him play and watch all these guys play, that's all I can ask for right now."

Wong's offensive potential has yet to follow him from the Minors to the big leagues, but manager Mike Matheny doesn't intend to shy away from using him off the bench.

"We're going to continue to throw him in there, because we know there's some serious offensive potential there," Matheny said. "When we need somebody to get on base and cause some havoc, he's a guy that can do that."

Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.