St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals’ Wainwright in home-run derby? Don’t count on it; Wong plays center

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright talks Home Run Derby

St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright talks Tuesday about how much fun he would have participating in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in San Diego.
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St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright talks Tuesday about how much fun he would have participating in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in San Diego.

Adam Wainwright would love to represent the St. Louis Cardinals in the All-Star Game.

But Wainwright isn’t thinking about doing his thing on the mound. He instead is enamored with the idea of participating in a pitchers’ Home Run Derby on July 11 in San Diego.

“I’m ready if they call,” Wainwright said Tuesday after launching several drives into the seats in left field during batting practice. “Of course, the Cardinals would have to approve. I’m sure they probably are avoiding the subject. It’s probably the last thing they want to think about.

“It’s fun for pitchers to act like we’re athletes for a couple of minutes here. Listen, all these starting pitchers and relievers used to be the best hitters on their high-school team, and everybody thinks they’re pretty good at this game. So it’s fun to go out and hit BP every day. It’s one of my favorite parts of the year.”

It’s fun for pitchers to act like we’re athletes for a couple of minutes here. Listen, all these starting pitchers and relievers used to be the best hitters on their high-school team, and everybody thinks they’re pretty good at this game. So it’s fun to go out and hit BP every day. It’s one of my favorite parts of the year.

Cardinals pitcher and batting-practice lover Adam Wainwright

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, asked whether he would allow Wainwright to compete in a Home Run Derby, replied, “Wow.”

“I don’t see a whole lot of good that comes from that,” Matheny said. “But I’m sure he does. I (can) see somebody falling down, swinging really hard. If Waino was in there, he would fall under that category. He puts on a good show in BP, so ... It’s funny.”

How would Wainwright fare going against some of the best power hitters in the game?

“I have Home Run Derby every day, so probably well,” he said. “But not compared to some of those sluggers that go out and hit 30 or 40 bombs. But among pitchers, I would do very well.”

I don’t see a whole lot of good that comes from that. But I’m sure he does. I (can) see somebody falling down, swinging really hard. If Waino was in there, he would fall under that category. He puts on a good show in BP, so ... It’s funny.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on Adam Wainwright’s desire to compete in the Home Run Derby

Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, is another pitcher who would like to participate in a Home Run Derby. But teams are hesitant to have their top pitchers swing for the fences, particularly because of the risk of injury.

“There’s probably more chance of a pitcher going out and hurting himself pitching in a game than hitting batting practice,” Wainwright said. “We stretch and run and do all that kind of stuff, get warm and hot, take warmup swings. We do this every day. It’s not like they’re asking us to go out there and do something we don’t ever do.

“It’s fun. It’s probably going nowhere. But it creates some buzz, right? Have a bunting contest with cleanup hitters and a Home Run Derby with pitchers.”

Wainwright said if the Cardinals pitchers played the Cardinals hitters in a game, the pitchers would win convincingly.

“We would win,” Wainwright said. “We’re not going to give up any runs. They’re going to give up some runs.”

Wong on roll

Second baseman Kolten Wong is getting the most out of his return to the minor leagues.

Wong was optioned to Class AAA Memphis on June 6 and in his first five games with the Redbirds batted .421 (8-for-19) with one triple, two home runs, seven RBIs, four walks and a .542 on-base percentage. One of his homers was a grand slam.

Wong connected again Tuesday night against Nashville, a three-run shot.

Memphis used Wong at second base in four games, but on Monday and Tuesday gave him assignments in center field. Wong played center for most of his freshman season at the University of Hawaii, but had never played a professional game at any position other than second base.

Wong had one putout in the game Monday, a 4-3 win for Memphis over Nashville.

“He’s got closing speed. That was the only remark defensively,” Matheny said of Wong’s performance. He was going out there full-out and was excited about the opportunity. Everything went well.”

There’s no question that adding versatility is a must for Wong, who hasn’t hit nearly well enough to merit the starting job at second base. Wong was batting .222 this season and has posted a paltry .247 average in 344 career games.

If Wong, 25, can move around the field a bit, his value to the Cardainls will be higher even if his hitting never takes off. But the Cardinals still believe Wong’s offense will come around.

“Any time you make yourself more versatile (it helps),” Matheny said. “We had that conversation right when he left. Guys asked if there was someplace else he could play. At the time, the answer was, ‘He’s a very good second baseman.’ I still say he’s a great second baseman. (But) you never know how things will play out. We’ve all seen how it kind of works itself out over time to stay the course.

“This adds to his career. It adds more opportunity for him.”

Pena exits rehab

Catcher Brayan Pena has left his minor-league rehab stint with Class AA Springfield and traveled to his Orlando, Fla., home. Orlando was the site of the terrorist shootings early Sunday morning that killed more than 50 people at a nightclub.

“Pena needed to head home for a personal issue,” Matheny said. “He’ll be back soon.”

Matheny offered no other explanation for Pena’s trip to Orlando.

On the field, Pena is batting .158 (3-for-19) in six rehab games.

“He’s still trying to get his timing right hitting-wise,” Matheny said. “But everything else is good.” 

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

Astros 5, Cardinals 2

Doug Fister limited the Cardinals to two runs, bases-empty homers by Matt Adams and Brandon Moss, in a season-high 7 1/3 innings and former Cardinal Colby Rasmus homered off Jaime Garcia to give Houston the victory in the opener of a two-game set. Fister walked one and struck out six.

By the numbers

The Cardinals had just five hits against Fister (7-3) and three relievers. ... Garcia (4-6) allowed four runs (three earned) in 6 1/3 innings. ... St. Louis fell to 15-17 at home and trail the Chicago Cubs by 9 1/2 games in the NL Central. ... The game lasted 2 hours, 8 minutes. ... Will Harris pitched the ninth for his fourth save.

Up next

Adam Wainwright (5-4, 5.21 ERA) vs. Collin McHugh (5-5, 5.22 ERA), 6:15 p.m. Wednesday.

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