CHICAGO — It wasn’t the smoothest debut at the plate, but at least Kolten Wong got his first-game jitters out of the way — and at Chicago’s storied Wrigley Field, no less.
Wong went 0 for 3 with a strikeout in his first major league game Friday as he and the rest of the St. Louis Cardinals were silenced by Jake Arrieta in a 7-0 Cubs’ victory.
Batting in the sixth spot and playing second base, the 2008 Kamehameha graduate’s first at-bat came with two runners aboard in the second inning. The 22-year-old got ahead in the count 2-0 but grounded to second to start a double play. The left-handed hitting Wong struck out looking in the fifth and grounded out to first in the seventh on the first pitch he saw with a runner on second base. In all, he faced nine pitches.
It was unclear if Wong would be in the lineup when the series continues today at 10:05 a.m. HST, when St. Louis could choose to start David Freese at second base against Chicago left-hander Travis Wood.
“I would say it’s a day-by-day situation,” general manager John Mozeliak said before the game. “I’m not saying (Wong) has to play every day — there are gonna be times when we want to get David back in the lineup — so I imagine there’s gonna be some split playing opportunities.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny welcomed the addition of Wong, who was hitting .303 in 107 games at Triple-A Memphis with 21 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs and 20 steals when he was called up.
“To Kolt’s credit, his game is a little bit of everything,” Matheny said before the game. “He’s gonna add a speed element to our game, a defensive element to our game. Hopefully, from an offensive standpoint, he can handle this league. That’s always the big question mark when you bring a young position player up.”
Wong is the first Big Islander to play in the big leagues since Waiakea graduate Onan Masaoka ended his career with the Dodgers in 2000. Wong was a first-round draft pick in 2011 after playing three seasons at the University of Hawaii. He steadily climbed the Cardinals’ organization, spending a year apiece in Single-A and double-A to become one of St. Louis’ top prospects.
“This is something that we’ve been thinking about for some time,” Mozeliak said. “I’ve been asked about his progress for the last few months, and I’ve said I think he’s ready for the big leagues.”
And since Wong was called up before Sept. 1, he’ll be eligible to make St. Louis’ postseason roster. The Cardinals are three games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central, but St. Louis leads the wild-card chase by a half-game over the Cincinnati Reds.
“Maybe we could wait until the rosters expanded (on Sept. 1),” Mozeliak said. “But with the way things have been going, I just felt getting him in there maybe would bring new energy.”
In the field, Wong handled four grounders cleanly and helped turn two double plays.
The addition of Wong creates some interesting lineup decisions for Matheny. With Wong playing second base Friday, Matt Carpenter, who had been playing second, moved to third base and Freese — the former World Series hero who is struggling somewhat this season — moved to the bench against Arrieta (1-0), a right-hander who allowed two hits and two walks while striking out seven.
To make room for Wong on the active roster, the Cardinals optioned outfielder Adron Chambers to Memphis.
The Cubs got Arrieta all the runs he needed in the first inning. After Jake Westbrook (7-8) walked the bases loaded, cleanup batter Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run single to center. Donnie Murphy added a two-out RBI single to make it 3-0.
The Tribune-Herald contributed to this report.