JUPITER, Fl. (KMOV.com) -- Adam Wainwright faced hitters for the first time Wednesday in Jupiter and cut a smaller silhouette than in years past. While still an imposing figure at 6’7, the 36-year-old veteran trimmed 21 pounds from his frame heading into spring to give himself more athleticism.
“It’s not as painful on my whole body, to this point, for sure,” he said, discussing the early physical feedback. “Early on in my career when I was bigger and stronger I felt better. I felt stronger, obviously, but I felt in charge out there on the mound. Last year I came in with that mindset and I tried to be as big and strong as I could possibly be and I just ended up getting really stiff in the process. I wasn’t as much of an athlete.”
Wainwright bulked up considerably over the last few seasons, adding muscle to his frame seemingly each of the last few winters.
But in 2018, flexibility and agility have taken precedence over mass, a not-uncommon shift as players cross the midway point of their 30s.
“I’m moving athletically much better. I’m able to sink my hips into a lot of stuff, I’m able to keep my hips closed better. I’m able to get off the mound, field ground balls and stuff like that better,” he said.
His first session reflected the change, as Wainwright looked fluid throughout his work. The weight loss didn’t diminish his fastball velocity or the sharp bite of his curve, and his fielding- long a point of pride- looks as crisp and smooth as ever.
While he may not have the same hulking frame as before, there was no doubt the captain of the Cardinals’ pitching corps was in charge on the mound.
Wainwright’s smile, so often big and beaming, was replaced by an intense stoicism. His steely, workmanlike demeanor standing out in sharp contrast to his airy, jovial attitude the day before.
“It’s work time for me when I’m out there on the mound. Usually if you see me laughing and stuff I’m not competing. When I’m competing I’m the opposite,” he said. “One time our travel secretary walked into the clubhouse and I was getting ready to start, I was listening to some music and I was getting super pumped up for a live bullpen and he stopped and was like, ‘Are you ok?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m about to pitch.’ He went, ‘This is practice.’ And I said, ‘I’m about to pitch.’ That’s how I need to be.”