JUPITER, FL (BaseballStL) -- After throwing live pitching practice after live pitching practice after side session after side session, Adam Wainwright finally graduated to a simulated game this morning on Field 1 of the Roger Dean Stadium complex. The Cards ace has been slowed up by a strained abdomen, something which forced a reduction in assignments that was already planned anyway.
Wainwright threw 50 pitches to hitters over three "innings", including the rehabbing Jon Jay, and worked largely on locating his fastball. He said he treated the simulated game much like a real game, one that could be the equivalent of a second Grapefruit League start.
And, yes, he saw a lot of progress from previous outings.
"Much better," Wainwright declared. "I made some adjustments from the last time out and hopefully I continue to do that until the start of the season."
Having the Cardinals starting center fielder take live swings against him also was a huge bonus. Wainwright said it gave him a chance to see how a proven starter in the league handled his pitches.
"Jon Jay is such a great big league hitter. I threw a bunch of change-ups today and I threw him a good bit of them just to see his reaction. It's good to see a good big league hitter's natural reaction to your pitches so it was good to see him in there," Wainwright said.
The best sign of all came after the simulated game was over. ?Wainwright did his normal post-start conditioning which included sprints. Running full speed was always the final step for the ace in his return from the strained abdomen. He says he felt no ill effects of that strain while running.
If Wainwright starts every five days from here on out that would put him on turn to pitch Opening Night against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 5th.