Greetings from Fort Myers, FL, where Adam Wainwright today will make his first start since September, 2010. He missed the entire 2011 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He'll take the ball here at Hammond Stadium against the Twins backed by the following lineup:
1) Rafael Furcal - SS
2) Skip Schumaker - 2B
3) Lance Berkman - 1B
4) Jon Jay - CF
5) Tony Cruz - C
6) Daniel Descalso - 3B
7) Matt Carpenter - RF
8) Shane Robinson - LF
9) Zack Cox - DH
Obviously, with Adam Wainwright back on the mound that is storyline numero uno today. He will only pitch a couple innings as he slowly but surely works his way up to full strength for the regular season. The guage of success for Waino this spring is going to be, pure and simple, making sure he feels strong. There won't be anything resembling pushing him any farther than he feels comfortable because it's really not worth it. Even once we get to the regular season they will continue to be cautious with him. GM John Mozeliak said during the Winter Warm-Up this year he envisioned Wainwright pitching between 150 to 180 innings.
That's something Wainwright did not necessarily agree with considering 150 innings is only five innings a start for 30 starts. Basically, when Wainwright (in the past) was laboring a bit they could still push him a little bit farther because they knew he was strong. Now...if he's, say, struggliing to get through a 5th or 6th inning just a tad with some runners on base they'd be more likely to take him out rather than push him. I'd be shocked if he only threw 150 innings his year (he's too good for that) but they won't let him get to the 190 or 200 inning barrier.
Today is step one to feeling strong for the whole season.
Other storylines for today:
-- Matt Carpenter gets his 2nd start in the outfield this spring. The Cards know he can play 3rd base. That's not an issue. They also know he can hit. Carpenter had an on-base percentage well over .400 this past season in AAA. The question is...can he play multiple positions? Can he be versatile enough to warrant a bench spot? In his first start in the OF he did not get that many opportunites to catch fly balls. The Cards need to see how he judges balls off the bat and if he looks smooth out there. No one is asking him to be Willie Mays. But he needs to show he can do it if asked.
-- Shane Robinson gets another start after coming through with a few RBIs yesterday in the win over the Red Sox. Looking at the bench situation right now...you know Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso and either Tony Cruz or Bryan Anderson will be there (I'm going under the assumption Tyler Greene will be the primary 2nd baseman). That leaves a couple spots open. Allen Craig will take one of those when he's healthy. That could be right away or it could be a few weeks into the season. So that means there is definitely one bench spot available and possibly another (but only until Craig returns). I would think Matt Carpenter, Adron Chambers and Erik Komatsu would have the edge for that. But when you start to see certain guys get multiple opportunities...that's not an accident. Could Robinson work his way into that consideration? It's possible, however unlikely.
-- Skip Schumaker starts at 2nd base. Skip represents the known quantity at that position. You've seen him play it for a few years and you know what you're going to get. Is he the first choice to play 2nd regularly? Probably not. But if Tyler Greene falters and Daniel Descalso isn't playing well either...you always have Schumaker to fall back on. He's not a star but he'll get the job done.
-- Reports indicate Chris Carpenter is dealing with a neck issue that apparently has caused him to seek treatment. I am going to track down GM John Mozeliak today to get an update on Carpenter's condition.
Keep checking KMOV.com as well as our mobile and iPad apps for the latest updates from Spring Training.