ORLANDO (KMOX) – It was a position he hadn’t played regularly since he was a kid, but going back to shortstop in the 2016 Arizona Fall League (AZFL) gave Paul DeJong a “different outlook” and ultimately brought him to the majors.
DeJong joined Chris Hrabe and Mike Claiborne at the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando, after he talked with MLB Network about his science-lab skills were featured this offseason. He joined the father of his agent, Dr. Lawrence Rocks, chemistry lab at Long Island University Post to test the effects of temperature on baseballs.
DeJong lost our sports experts once he began to explain the “bell curve” conclusion of their experiment, you can learn more for yourself, here.
It was before DeJong graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in biochemistry, that he last played as an everyday shortstop. Through four years with the Redhawks and two more in the Cardinals organization he was cast primarily as a third baseman.
But when he arrived at the AZFL after a 2016 season in Double-A Springfield, he was told by Desert Dogs manager Aaron Rowand to head over to short.
“I think playing short stop for me was kind of like renaissance – maybe like an epiphany becuase it kind of brought me back to when I was a kid and played shortstop everyday and I really enjoyed playing defense for the first time in, who knows,” DeJong says. “Now I’m playing shortstop, I’m into it, I’m happy to be out there and it’s just a whole different outlook on the field.”
DeJong finished second in the NL’s Rookie of the Year voting last season, playing in just 108 games. He says he looks forward to returning to his “natural position” next year and plans to be more prepared on how to be an everyday big leaguer.
The 24-year-old says he didn’t make any major life changes in the offseason, mostly traveling to see family and friends in Chicago and setting up temporary residence near Jupiter, Fl. for offseason workouts.
He was asked about the Chicago Cubs rivalry and how he is now treated by his high school and college friends who are mostly Cubs fans. He says they poke fun, but he’s become well adapted to the city he’s employed in.
“I don’t have any loyalties there (in Chicago), my loyalty is to St. Louis,” DeJong says, talking about his St. Louis sports allegiances.
However, he did divulge on some locker room gossip that teammate Carson Kelly, who he has rose through the Cardinals organization with, isn’t on the St. Louis team as much as he seems. He’s been seen an multiple St. Louis Blues games this season with both former Cardinals player Matt Adams.
“I think he is a Chicago sports fan… Goodluck Carson,” DeJong says jokingly.