Kolten Wong Benefitted From ‘Working In The Hitting Labs’ After Signing With Dodgers

With active rosters expanding to 28 players at the start of September, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected the contract of Kolten Wong and outrighted Yonny Hernández to make room on the 40-man roster, along with recalling Emmet Sheehan from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Wong signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers in the middle of August after being released by the Seattle Mariners. Although he may have had a more guaranteed starting role with another club, Wong believed he could help the Dodgers.

“You kind of look at different teams and see the needs of every team,” Wong said. “They didn’t really need much here, obviously, but it seemed like a good fit as a left-handed infield bat since they didn’t really have much. It was kind of just something we talked about and it worked out.”

In 67 games with the Mariners, Wong hit .165/.241/.227 with six doubles, two home runs and 19 RBI, but the Dodgers implemented swing changes to help him get back on track.

“Right when I signed, I went down to Arizona and started working with the hitting coaches, working in the hitting labs,” Wong said. “Just kind of cleaning some stuff up that I had creep in with Seattle, which led to my demise.”

Wong then had a strong showing in a short stint with Oklahoma City that convinced the Dodgers he regained his form and would be the best option for their expanded roster.

“I put in a lot of work in Arizona,” Wong said. “I didn’t go there to hang out. I went there to try and make it back here. It was a lot of hard work and sweaty days, but it all worked to be here now.”

The 32-year-old has spent 11 seasons at the Major League level, hitting .256/.329/.390 and winning two Gold Gloves. Although Wong enjoyed plenty of success throughout his career, he fell into some mechanical issues while with the Mariners.

“As a lefty I tend to cross a lot,” Wong explained. “When I’m crossing over a lot, I tend to roll over a lot of ground balls. It was a thing I was trying to combat, but with not much playing time and all that, I was never able to kind of get over that hump.”

Wong made his Dodgers debut on Friday and launched a pinch-hit three-run homer in his only at-bat of the night. It gave the Dodgers some life, but unfortunately their comeback effort still fell short in a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Wong is expected to play both middle infield spots while providing the team with a left-handed hitter off the bench who can enter to play defense or take an at-bat.

“I told him whatever he needs,” Wong said of his role. “I’m not here to hold myself to any standard. I’m here to come and be a Dodger, do what I’ve got to do to help the team win and contribute in any way I can. Baserunning, defense, whatever it takes.

“These guys have been playing good ball and doing what they’ve got to do, so I’m not trying to come here and do anything different. Just step in line and help out.”

Kolten Wong sees familiar faces with Dodgers

Wong spent eight years playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was teammates with Jason Heyward, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller. That familiarity with so many players coming over to the Dodgers helped him settle in quickly.

“Playing against the Dodgers forever, and then you’ve got J-Hey, Lance, Joe Kelly, Shelby, a lot of guys that I knew before,” Wong said. “Trained with Kiké this (past) offseason. A lot of guys that I’ve known from the past, that it made it a lot easier to come in and be comfortable.”

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