Wong learning to make most of his assets

Cardinals' athletic second baseman working on improving hitting

Wong learning to make most of his assets

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kolten Wong knows he's not quite the complete package as a player, yet. But he also knows there's only one way to get there.

"I think for the past couple of yours I've been still trying to figure out all these different things that people do to make them successful at hitting," said Wong. "So, I'm learning that I'm not other people. I'm who I am and if I'm going to get beat or I'm going to have a [good] year, it's going to be being myself and doing what I think I can do best. ... I tried to reinvent my swing when all I [have] to do is add things to it."

It's all part of the learning process for a young player.

"A hundred percent," Wong said.

Batting leadoff, Wong went 1-for-3 with a third-inning bunt single in the Cardinals' 8-0 loss to the Twins on Wednesday.

"He's got so many different weapons, for him to not think about laying the bunt down is a misuse of his tools," manager Mike Matheny said of Wong. "He runs so well. He's a good bunter. There's hits to be had out there. And depending on where he is in the lineup, there's opportunity to move guys around and make things happen, put pressure on the defense. That's just the kind of exciting player he is."

Wong, who signed a five-year, $25.5 million extension plus a club option for 2021 during Spring Training last year, is one of the smoothest, most athletic second basemen in the Majors.

"This is my spot," he said. "There's nobody who's going to take second base from me. I believe that. ... Regardless of the situation, I know what kind of player I am, what kind of athlete I can be, and that should be well and good enough to take care of what I need to be. I'm not a guy who's going to hit 30 home runs."

But it's not 30 home runs the Cardinals are looking for. Wong hit .249 his rookie year and .262 as a sophomore, but saw his average fall to .240 last season. His stolen bases have slipped each season, from 20 to 15 to seven (without being caught). But his on-base percentage has steadily increased from .292 to .321 to .327.

It's Wong's athleticism and other assets the Cardinals are counting on.

"Just keep your head in there and keep playing the game and keep looking for opportunities to strike," Matheny said. "I think so much gets made of the offensive side, but there's so much more that a guy like him can consistently bring."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.