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Cardinals’ trade paves way for Hawaii’s Kolten Wong at second base

  • ASSOCIATED PRESSSt. Louis Cardinals' Kolten Wong gets a base hit to bring in the winning run in the ninth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in Jupiter, Fla., Monday, March 12, 2012. St. Louis won 5-4. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    St. Louis Cardinals' Kolten Wong gets a base hit to bring in the winning run in the ninth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in Jupiter, Fla., Monday, March 12, 2012. St. Louis won 5-4. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

ST. LOUIS >> Former World Series MVP David Freese was traded from his hometown St. Louis Cardinals to the Los Angeles Angels in a four-player deal today that reunites Albert Pujols with a pair of ex-teammates.

St. Louis obtained a new starting center fielder in Peter Bourjos plus prospect Randal Grichuk, and the Cardinals also sent reliever Fernando Salas to the Angels.

“Overall, we just felt this was a very compelling deal to make,” general manager John Mozeliak said. 

The Angels were a match because they need a third baseman and Freese didn’t figure as the long-term solution at third for St. Louis.

The Cardinals will move second baseman Matt Carpenter to third, opening a position for former top draft pick Kolten Wong of Hilo.

Wong, who played for Kemehameha Schools-Hawaii and the University of Hawaii, batted just .153 in 32 games after being called up from the minors in September and he was picked off first base to end Game 4 of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox.

Mozeliak said that was just a “snapshot” of Wong, who batted .303 with 20 steals in 21 chances at Triple-A Memphis.

“It gives Wong a clear shot,” Mozeliak said. “I think he’s going to hit.”

Freese’s departure did not come as a surprise.

The 30-year-old was the MVP of the 2011 NL championship series and the World Series, setting a major league record with 21 postseason RBIs and hitting a game-ending, 11th-inning home run in Game 6. He injured his back chasing a foul ball into the stands during spring training this year and never hit stride.

“David, growing up in St. Louis, this could not have been the easiest place to play,” Mozeliak said. “I do think he may be looking forward to a fresh start. This was not an easy year for him.”

Freese batted .262 with nine homers and 60 RBIs, dropoffs from career bests of 20 homers, 79 RBIs and a .293 average the previous year. Freese made $3.15 million and is eligible for salary arbitration.

Pujols also played on the 2011 title team before signing a $240 million, 10-year deal with the Angels.

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