JUPITER, FL. (KMOV.com) -- Adam Wainwright, making his first start in nearly eleven months, took the mound for the Cardinals Monday against the Mets in Jupiter.
His first inning started sharp, with a strikeout of Dilson Herrera, but got considerably rockier from there. The 34-year-old gave up a single and two walks, loading the bases before getting out of trouble.
“In the bullpen I was very controlled. When I started amping it up I was a little erratic. It’s harder than I’ve gone. Each time out I’ll get more polished and polished,” he said afterward. “It’s all timing. As I get going a little harder and faster, I need to get to take the ball out a little sooner, extend my stride a couple inches. I know those things, and I’ll make those adjustments.”
Wainwright threw 38 pitches over two innings, striking out two and walking three. Even with that ratio and a pair of surrendered hits, he didn’t give up a run.
“He was elevated,” Matheny said. “That’s not typically him, but it’s the first game out. Still gets big outs. Gets bases loaded, makes better pitches. That’s Adam.”
Some of his effectiveness was limited by the absence of his signature curveball. The 6’7 righty threw just one breaking ball on the day, choosing instead to work on other pitches.
“That high fastball would have been more effective had he thrown more curves but that wasn’t on his agenda today,” Matheny said.
The biggest takeaway from Monday’s start was how positive Wainwright was about his health. Having missed much of the season last year with a torn Achilles, the three-time All Star found a silver lining: his arm got more rest than ever before.
“My body feels great,” he said, adding that he can do things this spring that in the past he wouldn’t do in an effort to not overwork his arm. “I’m able to long toss now. When you can do those kind of things, it’s fun finding the balance of what your arm needs going out there every fifth day. You know if you need to stretch it out a little bit, build some strength, you can. “There were times last year and the year before that where I’m throwing and I’m not able to do those kinds of things. So now my arm is reaping the rewards of taking that time off.”
Wainwright is targeted to make four starts this spring, then take the mound for the Cardinals’ first game in Pittsburgh. The veteran has a familiar schedule for what each start is supposed to bring. Today was simply getting back to game action and feeling out his arsenal. Moving forward, he will begin to sharpen his pitches.
“I obviously have a little ways to go with my command,” he said. “I liken it to I’m focusing on a big bucket right now and I need to focus on a ping pong ball.”