Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sharp at Second, Rookie DeJong Gets a Look at Short

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sharp at Second, Rookie DeJong Gets a Look at Short

Article excerpt

CINCINNATI * The Cardinals have four players on their roster who have had substantial time playing shortstop in the major leagues, two of them as All-Stars at the position, and yet on Tuesday, in a hint of the roster judgments going on, they did not start any of them at short.

Rookie Paul DeJong, who has been the team's fixture at second base with Kolten Wong on the disabled list, slid to his right for something of an evaluation.

"He's had more repetition at shortstop (in the minors) and it's something that we haven't been able to see here," manager Mike Matheny said. "You kind of see how that range plays with what he's doing at second base. To see it at shortstop to just let us know what we got here."

DeJong, 23, arrived in the organization as a fourth-round selection and a third baseman with power potential. He started moving around the field during Class AA, and when he reported to last year's invitation-only Arizona Fall League, he was notified that he would be playing a lot of shortstop. A second baseman, catcher, and even outfielder in college, he was new to shortstop.

Short was a blast.

"My strength is playing all three," DeJong said. "I know that. I probably like the range (positions) better. That way I can let my feet play and my arm play, and it's not just pure reaction. I feel in the middle infield you've got to cover up ground and you have to find ways to make every play. Some of those balls that I'm getting to, I know people didn't expect me to."

In a series of games against the Cubs and this week in Cincinnati, DeJong has flashed that surprising range and an aptitude to improve upon it. In Chicago, DeJong made a diving play to his left but was unable to beat Addison Russell to the base with a throw. Later, he made a diving play to his right, behind second base, but was unable to fire an accurate backhand throw to second for an out.

Asked about those plays Monday, he said that one foot to the left or right one foot for better positioning and he makes either of those plays. That night, he did it.

DeJong robbed Scooter Gennett of a hit by ranging far and getting off a cleaner throw.

RIGHT FIELDING

One of the areas that the Cardinals felt most confident about coming into the season was their outfield defense, anchored by a center fielder in left (Randal Grichuk) and a plus-fielder in right (Stephen Piscotty). …

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