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Cardinals could soon benefit from Peralta’s return

It’s not all bad news as the St. Louis Cardinals spent the weekend bombing out of their test against the Washington Nationals.

It seems that shortstop Jhonny Peralta has been making a lot of progress on his rehabilitation from thumb ligament surgery. He has already started taking fielding practice and a rehab assignment could be on the horizon in the next two or three weeks.

Could it be that, with the Redbirds struggling to get much over the .500 mark, the cavalry is coming?

The offense has generally been pretty good this season with more power and more runs scored that originally expected. But the Cardinals have struggled terribly against good teams, getting swept by Pittsburgh and Washington and losing two of three to the Chicago Cubs. And in those games, runs were at a premium. So the boost of Peralta’s bat sure couldn’t hurt.

I’m not in the practice of counting chickens before they’re hatched. So I don’t want to mark an extra run or two per game in my score book before we see what Peralta can do. The place where the thumb injury is most likely to cause the veteran shortstop problems is the place where St. Louis needs him the most -- at the plate.

Still, if Peralta can perform up to his typical levels, it could boost the St. Louis offense tremendously.

First, the Redbirds would add a middle of the order impact bat into the mix. Second, it would strengthen the bench by pushing a starter into a complimentary role.

Which starter or starters is impacted remains to be seen.

Peralta could find time at first base where, besides a few Brandon Moss home runs, the team still struggles to find consistency. At the very least, Peralta would be a potential right-handed compliment to Moss’ lefty bat. Peralta, an experienced infielder, would be a better defensive option at first base than right-handed outfielder Matt Holliday.

Antother option is that Peralta could move back to his traditional spot at shortstop, potentially pushing Aledmys Diaz from short to second base.

I’m not saying that the Cardinals are ready to give up on Kolten Wong at second base. But he struggling to produce AGAIN and I sense that the organization is becoming frustrated.

Perhaps Wong needs the push of having to fight for playing time. Or, if things really get crazy, maybe the Birds decide to go with Diaz and Jedd Gyorko at second base and trade Wong for help at another position. (Would Wong be a good start toward a deal landing Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman?)

I don’t think we’ve reached the point of no return with Wong just yet. But, while the front office is in love with his quick bat, let’s just say it’s becoming apparent that he doesn’t exactly have the eye of the tiger or the heart of a lion.

The Cardinals can’t allow Wong’s soft ego and questionable resolve to spread throughout the clubhouse. He needs to stop pouting and play some ball -- and soon. He also needs to quit being pushed around by pitchers who take advantage of his hard-headedness at the plate.

After an impressive spring training of spraying the ball all over the field, he’s back to trying to pull everything. And the result is a low batting average and too many strikeouts for a little guy.

It’s early. But the Birds haven’t played anywhere close to their potential at this point. And they’re going to dig themselves a hole too big to get out of if they don’t find second gear soon.

A shakeup may be in order.