ST. LOUIS -- The path had been laid for Kolten Wong to establish himself as the team's starting second baseman this season, but a slow start has landed the once first-round pick back in Triple-A Memphis.
Citing the need to get Wong everyday at-bats in a less-pressured environment, general manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny decided Sunday morning that getting Wong back to Memphis would be best for his continued development. They delivered that news to the second baseman after Sunday's win.
Wong was optioned to Triple-A along with outfielder Shane Robinson, whose playing time has been sparse. Outfielder Randal Grichuk and infielder Greg Garcia were called up to take the two vacant roster spots.
"We've been thinking about or contemplating this for some time in the sense of when you look at how we were playing and what we were doing, there's just no silver bullet to make a quick fix because frankly, our everyday lineup has to produce," Mozeliak said. "But we also didn't want to see a situation where somebody like Kolten Wong was finding himself fighting an uphill battle every day. We really felt like the best way to get himself right would be to do it down in Memphis where he can play every day and take a little pressure off. Up here, there's no time for breaks. Your foot has to be on the pedal every day."
Wong had recently been losing playing time to Mark Ellis, who will now get the majority of second base starts. Wong was batting .279/.354/.349 at the end of the team's last homestand, but had just four hits in 28 at-bats since. As he labored to find his timing, Wong was also struggling to retain confidence.
It was the same fight he had a year ago during his first big-league stint -- Wong hit .153/.194/.169 in 59 at-bats following an August 2013 callup -- and after starting 0-for-10 in Spring Training. He was able to right himself this spring and finished with a team-best .375 Grapefruit League average.
He could not sustain that positive offensive momentum.
"He's been so much on the fast track, realizing that he could either try and figure it out here getting limited playing time or get back to Memphis and jump in every day and get it figured out," Matheny said. "We believe he's going to have a long career. It definitely will speed the process up for him where he is feeling better at the plate."
"We know he's capable of doing it, but we didn't want him to have him dig himself a hole where he felt like he couldn't get out of," Mozeliak added. "From a talent standpoint, what he needs to do down there is really just take a deep breath and go back to believing in what he's capable of doing."
Robinson, who hasn't been in the Minors since 2012, had one option year remaining, which made the move possible. He was carried on the club as a fifth outfielder and had two hits in 20 at-bats
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.