7/19/2014 3:34 P.M. ET
Shoulder feeling good, Wong thriving in No. 2 spot
All-Star break gives young Cardinals second baseman more time to heal
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The four-day All-Star break came at an opportune time for Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, who said the time away from the field gave his left shoulder additional opportunity to heal.
After spending 15 days on the disabled list with a left shoulder contusion, Wong returned to the team and played in eight games to close out the first half. He went 9-for-28 with five homers upon coming back, but did admit to feeling some minor discomfort if he stretched or jolted his shoulder too much.
On Friday, Wong felt none of it.
"My shoulder is feeling really good now," he said. "I just basically did nothing the entire break. I tried to get my body to 100 percent. It's never going to be 100 percent, but my shoulder is back to normal."
Wong opened the second half with a two-hit game in which he scored two of the Cardinals' three runs. He has hit safely in eight of nine games since returning from the DL, and his five home runs are the most by a Cardinals second baseman in July since 1977, when Mike Tyson also had five.
Wong's instant impact since coming off the DL has led manager Mike Matheny to deploy the second baseman as his No. 2 hitter for five straight games. Matheny has used 11 players in that spot, but has been hopeful that one of them would seize the opportunity to become a long-term fit, as Carlos Beltran was for much of the past two seasons.
Wong, who also brings an element of speed to the top of the lineup, is emerging as that guy.
"I'm not really thinking about hitting second. I'm just going up there and putting a good at-bat together and getting on base," Wong said. "When I was hitting eighth, it was more thinking about how I could get runs in or how I could get into scoring position. ... Hitting second, you have some stuff to think about. You want to get on base. Or if [Matt Carpenter] is on, I have to figure out how to get him over. You're definitely thinking out there of how you can execute."
Wacha to have MRI to see if he can begin throwing
ST. LOUIS -- Right-hander Michael Wacha is scheduled for a follow-up MRI on his pitching shoulder Monday, after which the Cardinals will be able to determine whether he can begin a throwing program.
This will be the third MRI for Wacha in a month's span. The first, taken when Wacha was dealing with some shoulder fatigue, identified a stress reaction in his right shoulder. He was prescribed two weeks of rest, after which Wacha had another MRI to see if the area had begun to heal.
It had, but not enough to be cleared to resume throwing. The Cardinals opted to have Wacha rest for another two weeks before reevaluating Monday.
The timing of this follow-up visit is crucial, too, as it could play into the club's strategy at the Trade Deadline. To this point, the Cardinals have maintained that they do not feel they have to add starting pitching before the end of the month. But if Wacha is still not ready to throw, the organization could change that stance.
Wacha said Saturday that while he cannot throw, he has stayed busy with therapy and other weight-room exercises.
• Catcher George Kottaras started Saturday for the first time since the Cardinals claimed him off waivers on July 12. Tony Cruz will continue to get the bulk of the starting opportunities in Yadier Molina's absence, but with Molina not expected back until September, the Cards wanted to get Kottaras involved sooner rather than later.
• Lefty Kevin Siegrist (left forearm strain) threw 17 pitches in a scoreless inning for Double-A Springfield in his fourth rehab appearance Friday. The outing also checked off another box on Siegrist's rehab to-do list, as it marked his first back-to-back appearances since joining Springfield.
Matheny would not speculate when Siegrist might be cleared to return from the disabled list.
• The Cardinals signed right-handed pitcher Jeremy Berg to a Minor League deal Friday and added him to the Springfield roster. Berg, 28, threw a scoreless inning for Springfield in his debut. He began the season pitching for the Angels' Triple-A affiliate.
• Infielders Pete Kozma, Greg Garcia and Xavier Scruggs each had multihit games in Triple-A Memphis' 12-1 win over Colorado Springs on Friday. Kozma went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs. Tyler Lyons earned the win and allowed one unearned run in five innings. He struck out seven and walked none.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.