Mark Ellis got the start at second base for the Cardinals Saturday here after missing seven games with a left knee ailment. The veteran, who was a regular with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, was signed at $5.25 million for one year to challenge rookie Kolten Wong for a starting job this season.

But that’s not going to happen. Ellis hasn’t really had enough work yet and Wong, after opening nothing for 10 this spring, is leading the Cardinals in hitting at .375.

“(Wong) has answered a lot of questions,” said manager Mike Matheny. “He’s really done a nice job of taking advantage of the opportunity.”

Matheny said Ellis’ injury had precluded the Cardinals from looking at Ellis defensively at shortstop and third base, positions he rarely has played in the majors.

“We need to get him going and feeling right. It’s hard to do that at a position outside of what he’s most comfortable with,” said Matheny. “The bulk of the work he’s going to see at the beginning of the season is going to be at second base.”

Matheny said he wasn’t concerned that the 36-year-old would be ready for the start of the season.

“He’s just a pro,” said Matheny. “He’s the kind of guy you could put anywhere and he’s going to make the plays he should make.”

Ellis had three at-bats, singling once and scoring as he played three innings in the field Saturday.

“I felt good and felt a lot better as the game went on,” said Ellis. ”The timing is all right. Still, the more at-bats you get, the better you’re going to feel.”

Ellis said he didn’t know how he hurt the knee other than it was something that “just came up one day and progressively got worse. I thought it would probably be best to take care of it.”

Asked if he was disappointed he couldn’t compete for the second-base job, he said, “I’m always disappointed when I can’t play.... I never want to be the guy in the training room. I want to be the guy who nobody has to worry about. They don’t have to worry about, ‘Hey, is this guy going to be able to play today or not?’ That’s what is disappointing.”