Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Kolten Wong brings ‘cleaned up’ swing, playoff experience to Dodgers

Must read

LOS ANGELES — Kolten Wong’s road back to the big leagues required a stop in Arizona where he spent “a lot of sweaty days.”

A two-time Gold Glove winner in his days with the St. Louis Cardinals, Wong was released by the Seattle Mariners after batting .165 in 67 games this season. The Dodgers signed him a few days later and sent him to their training complex in Arizona.

“Right after I signed I went down there to Arizona and started working with the hitting coaches, working in the hitting labs,” Wong said. “Just kind of cleaned up some things that had kind of creeped up while I was in Seattle that kind of led to my demise.”

Wong took his corrections to the Arizona Complex League for two games and then three with Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he went 7 for 13 with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs.

“I put in a lot of work in Arizona,” Wong said. “I didn’t go down there to hang out. I went down there to make it back here.”

An opt-out clause in his contract would have allowed him to become a free agent again if the Dodgers didn’t promote him this week. He and rookie right-hander Emmet Sheehan were added to the roster Friday when rosters expanded to 28.

“Kolten just adds versatility,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He played some short (at OKC), but he’s a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman. Left-handed bat off the bench. Come in for defense. Pinch hit. He just gives us another option.”

He also gives the Dodgers another experienced playoff veteran. Wong has played 35 postseason games with the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.

“It is intriguing. He has been around,” Roberts said. “We can trust that he can conduct at-bats. Our guys cleaned up some things with the swing so we feel like he’s more back to the player that he was a couple years ago – not too long ago – and just the experience that he has makes him an interesting player.”

Wong hit .272 with a .783 OPS and a career-high 14 home runs in his first year after signing as a free agent with the Brewers in 2021.

“They didn’t need much here, obviously,” Wong said of signing with the Dodgers. “But it seemed like a good fit – left-handed infield bat, they didn’t really have much. Just something we talked about and it worked out.”

MARTINEZ MOVE

J.D. Martinez is expected to take swings in a simulated-game setting this weekend then travel to join Triple-A Oklahoma City for a series in Sugar Land next week, according to Roberts.

Martinez is expected to make a brief rehab assignment with OKC before joining the Dodgers for the series in Washington next weekend.

Martinez has been out since Aug. 19 with a recurring groin/hamstring tightness.

KELLY PROGRESS

Veteran reliever Joe Kelly threw approximately 20 pitches in a bullpen session Friday afternoon. Kelly is on the injured list with right forearm inflammation.

“He used all of his pitches. He touched 96-97 (mph), I think,” Roberts said. “It was really good. Command was really good.”

Roberts said he wasn’t sure what the next step for Kelly would be. He is expected back before the end of the regular season.

ALSO

In order to add Wong to the 40-man roster Friday, the Dodgers outrighted infielder Yonny Hernandez to OKC. Hernandez was already playing with OKC and cleared waivers.

UP NEXT

Braves (RHP Bryce Elder, 11-4, 3.50 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Emmet Sheehan, 3-1, 5.63 ERA), Saturday, 6:10 p.m. SportsNet LA, 570 AM

More articles

Latest article