JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Adam Wainwright sometimes looks like he's sniffing his glove between pitches. The St. Louis Cardinals pitcher often is actually talking to God.
For Wainwright, prayer is an integral part of his rising career -- before games, during them, and even as post-season awards are being passed out. Wainwright was the keynote speaker Thursday at the Missouri governor's annual prayer breakfast in Jefferson City.
Before the start of the 2009 season, Wainwright said the Cardinal's chaplain prayed that he would win the Cy Young Award if it would glorify God. But as the votes were being cast, Wainwright said he added his own request: "I prayed that he would only allow me to win if I didn't use it in an egotistical way."
Wainwright, who went 19-8 while helping lead the Cardinals to the playoffs last year, finished third in the Cy Young voting behind the San Francisco Giant's Tim Lincecum and Cardinals teammate Chris Carpenter.
At a news conference following the prayer breakfast, Wainwright said he prays before games that God will strengthen him "and let the other team look at me in fear." And when he raises his glove to his face between pitches, he's not just smelling the leather.
"It's kind of a weird habit, but what I'm actually doing is talking to God or talking to myself, just asking for strength," Wainwright said.
Wainwright told reporters he's excited that Matt Holliday's new $120 million contract will keep him with the Cardinals for at least seven years, but disappointed that new Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire hasn't made the Hall of Fame.
McGwire received 128 votes for the Hall of Fame in results released Wednesday -- a 23.7 percent showing that is far shy of the 75 percent approval needed from voters of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
McGwire has been stigmatized since evading questions from Congress in 2005 about steroids use. But Wainwright said McGwire deserves recognition partly because of his famous home-run race with Sammy Sosa in 1998, during which McGwire set a single-season home-run record.
"They did more than just hit home runs, they brought fans back, they brought baseball back," Wainwright said. "There's people in the Hall of Fame who have done much worse things than what allegedly Mark McGwire has done."
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