Second baseman Kolten Wong was scratched from the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup against the Chicago Cubs on Monday with a tight calf muscle.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny characterized Wong as being a “reasonably healthy scratch.”
“I don’t know exactly what that means, but I’m going to roll with it,” Matheny said before an unsightly 9-0 loss to the Cubs. “But day game after a night game, anybody in there that feels a little something, we’re going to make an adjustment.”
Wong was employed as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning. He struck out against Zach Rosscup, but reached first on a wild pitch. Wong was lifted for pinch-runner Randal Grichuk.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
“He was told to go easy,” Matheny said. “He was ready to play; he wanted to play. We just saw enough that we had pause. We got him off the field and let Randal run.”
Matt Carpenter started for Wong at second base and Mark Reynolds took over for Carpenter at third base.
Matheny doesn’t know when Wong injured the calf.
“I just found out about it,” Matheny said. “Something felt a little tight, so (the trainers) took him in and started giving him some work. They made me aware of and that changed the course.”
Rest for weary
Matheny subbed out most of his starters in the one-sided loss. Catcher Yadier Molina was the first to leave. He was followed by Carpenter, Jason Heyward, Stephen Piscotty and Jhonny Peralta. St. Louis used 23 players, seven of them pitchers.
Matheny’s hope was that a few innings off before a 7:15 p.m. game Tuesday could prove beneficial to the everyday players.
“Obviously, we went real quick to Yadi,” Matheny said. “I hate pulling any of these guys out, but day game after a night game ... Especially Jhonny and Yadi and Jason and Carp, I think you could single those guys out as the ones who have really been grinding for a long time. Kolten’s been going pretty hard, too. Hopefully, it will pay off down the road.”
Matheny wasn’t stunned by the news that reliever Jordan Walden will not be available for the rest of the season. Walden could face offseason surgery on his rotator cuff.
“We kind of saw it heading in that direction,” Matheny said. “We can’t say we’re completely surprised about it. We always want all of our guys to be back and be a part of it. We keep positive (with) hopeful anticipation that they can make it work out, but also (be) realistic that sometimes you just can’t get it right and you’ve got to take time.
“He seems to be in a pretty tough spot right here, whether to get the surgery or begin the rehab that he needs to do. It’s never easy.”
Who’s in center?
Jon Jay has started three of the last four games in center field since he was activated from the disabled list Friday after a stress fracture in his left wrist.
“It’s like it was before. We’ll just kind of watch it day by day,” Matheny said of the competition for playing time in center. “Jon would know he can provide a spark for us when everything gets going right (and) he has strength. The only way we’re going to be able to really watch that is to get him out there and playing.
“We’ll still be doing some juggling, but right now, it’s a great opportunity for Jon Jay to jump in and hopefully help us do something positive.”
Left fielder Matt Holliday’s return in a week to 10 days could jumble the outfield mix. Heyward could see time in center and Piscotty could move to right. If Grichuk is able to rejoin that group, playing time could be sparse for Jay, Tommy Pham and Peter Bourjos, who hasn’t played much, anyway.
The series against the Cubs could be a preview of the best-of-five NL Division Series. The Cardinals and Cubs, until recently, could not meet in the playoffs. That now is a possibility.
The Cubs generally are believed to be about a year ahead of schedule in their development. But young players like Kris Bryant, 23, Kyle Schwarber, 22, and Addison Russell, 21, have adapted quickly to the big-league level, while first baseman Anthony Rizzo has emerged as an MVP candidate and pitcher Jake Arrieta is in line to win the Cy Young Award.
“This time last year, it was a radically different-looking team,” Matheny said. “They brought in all these young players and gave them opportunities to come up from the minor-league system. You could tell the talent level was there.
“We had trouble with them last year. They’ve always been tough games, and I don’t think that’s going to change regardless of the personnel they have. It’s one of those rivalries that just kind of brings out the best of everybody. You’re going to have a lot of excitement.”
Matheny said reliever Sam Tuivailala will join the Cardinals from Class AAA Memphis on Tuesday. Memphis closed its season Monday.
Asked whether left-hander Marco Gonzales would be back, Matheny was evasive.
“We’ll have just Sam (Tuesday),” Matheny said.