(BaseballStL) — Kolten Wong is back in St. Louis after missing 13 games on the DL with a shoulder contusion.
After jamming his shoulder on a play at second base on June 3 against the Royals, the 23-year-old was plagued with pain and stiffness for the rest of the month.
“It was really affecting my play,” he said before Sunday’s game. “The last couple games when I was swinging the pain started getting a little worse every single time I tried to finish. I was more afraid of really hurting myself than anything. It got to the point where every swing I was taking, I had to let go with my hand and shake it off.”
Wong appeared in 10 games following the injury, starting eight of them and playing the entire way seven times. It was clear from his performance he was struggling with his shoulder, as he went just 2-for-30 over that time.
Finally, on June 21, he spoke to Mike Matheny about it.
“Mike was in the outfield with me and I said ‘I’m not going to take batting practice today.’ He said ‘why what’s going on?’ I told him, ‘Mike my shoulder is just killing me right now and I’m trying to just push through it,’” Wong said.
After trying to play through the pain, he finally decided it was an untenable position. “Nothing was getting better and it didn’t show any signs of getting any better,” he said.
The second baseman received two cortisone shots in his shoulder, one in front and one in back, and rested for a few days. He began his Memphis rehab assignment on July 1.
“It’s a different way of taking it,” Wong said of his most recent stint in AAA. “You know you’re coming back so you want to work extra hard to make sure when you come back you’re ready to go.”
He got to work right away, hitting .455 with a double, a homer, three RBIs and a stolen base in three games. Wong also said he was able to run without pain and make diving plays in the field comfortably. He added the time off also allowed him to decompress from the injury and pain, and refocus his energy.
“It also gave me that little mental break to get back and relax, start playing the game and enjoying it again,” he said.
Wong is back in the lineup Sunday against the Marlins. Earlier in the month, GM John Mozeliak identified his return as a possible offensive spark. Wong’s speed and mitt are both game-changing at times, even if he’s not all the way back from injury.
“I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent but it’s pretty close. I’m able to finish my swing now without any pain,” he said. “You play 100-something games, you’re shoulder is never really going to feel good, but it feels great right now.”
He will hit seventh behind Oscar Taveras, who got the nod in center field. To make room, Shane Robinson was optioned back to Memphis.