Cardinals remain mum on Opening Day starter as Martinez returns -

Cardinals remain mum on Opening Day starter as Martinez returns to camp

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fl. ( -- With Opening Day 13 days away, eyes have begun to turn from Florida toward St. Louis. The April 2 date with the World Champion Chicago Cubs is approaching fast, and the Cardinals have yet to name their Opening Day starter.

“I just don’t see there’s a rush. I like giving us freedom,” manager Mike Matheny said. “But I understand why you have to ask.”

In years past, Adam Wainwright has been the unquestioned game one starter. The 35-year-old has anchored the staff in the Matheny era and has won 68 games since 2012 (an injury-shortened 2015 included). He’s started Opening Day each of the last four seasons for St. Louis.

But a disappointing 2016, coupled with the ascension of Carlos Martinez, has reminded observers the torch will likely soon be passed.

Martinez returned to Cardinal camp Monday after the Dominican team was bounced from the World Baseball Classic. The righty started two games in the WBC, going eight innings and allowing one earned run. After a debut in which he threw a handful of pitches more than 100 miles per hour, Martinez appeared to be competition ready with all of his offerings.

Despite getting just two starts, both he and the Cardinals feel he rejoins camp with a timetable in line with his fellow starters.

“He feels he’s right on time. He’ll start here the day after tomorrow and he’s already built up as anybody. I’m happy with where he is,” Matheny said.  

Martinez being in synch with the other rotation members makes the next two weeks interesting for those handicapping the Opening Day derby.

Wainwright believes last season was a cascade of problems he’s since fixed. His lower half is stronger, he reworked his pitch grips and once again dove into the idea of a changeup.

Read: Wainwright seeking change once again in 2017

But after a seven-hit, 10-run battering at the hands of the Mets, the door is once again open for speculation as to which pitcher will be in the best place come April.

Read: After consulting Adam Wainwright, Adam Wainwright has again found his curveball

Martinez is next scheduled to pitch Wednesday the 22nd, meaning normal rest would put him on the mound again Monday the 27th. Were he to pitch the opener, he would have an extra day’s rest before April 2nd.

Wainwright will throw Thursday the 23rd, then Tuesday the 28th. If he were tapped as the game one starter, April 2nd would be on normal rest for him.

Those intervening starts won’t be tuneups in sleepy spring stadiums. They will likely determine who draws the Cubs to open the season at Busch Stadium.

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