MRI results on Wainwright’s elbow come back in Cardinals’ favor

Adam Wainwright felt discomfort in his throwing elbow during Tuesday night's start in Tampa Bay.

Orlin Wagner/AP

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Don’t be too worried about the state of Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright’s right elbow just yet.

Manager Mike Matheny said an MRI on Wednesday showed no damage to the elbow ligament that Wainwright had surgically replaced in February 2011, a result that had to ease the worries of Matheny and the Cardinals.

Asked about his level of concern, Matheny said, "I would say not as high now that we got some results back and everything came back clear."

Matheny did not rule Wainwright out from making his next scheduled start, on Monday at home against the Mets.

"We’re going to wait and see how everything goes, listen to the doctors," Matheny said.

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With an off day Thursday, Wainwright would get an extra day’s rest before Monday. Matheny also could use the off day to shuffle the rotation and get Wainwright another two days without him actually missing a turn.

Matheny probably would not have been as optimistic earlier Wednesday. Though Wainwright did not say anything about his elbow bothering him during his seven-inning, scoreless start on Tuesday night, he admitted to some discomfort afterward. The club quickly decided to send him back to St. Louis for an MRI, which showed nothing more serious than tendinitis.

"He explained it as something that he had thrown through before," said Matheny, who had not spoken to Wainwright since the MRI. "It was in the ‘right’ spot. He knows exactly how to manipulate it and get around it. So doctors looked and concurred that it was in the right spot."

Wainwright said after the game that he had pitched through tendinitis earlier this season, as well as various other ailments and illnesses. Matheny said he noticed during the game that Wainwright was laboring with his pitches, but not so much that he asked his ace.

"You get a guy into warrior mode, which he gets every fifth day, and if I go up and ask him, I’m not going to get a real good answer," Matheny said. "I was just watching. (He) was good, but it was a little different. It just looked like he was working real hard. He hates every time I say that."

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Matheny said he really took note in the seventh inning, when Wainwright retired the Rays in order. After the inning, Matheny received no argument when he told Wainwright he was coming out after 92 pitches.

"I got zero fight out of him," Matheny said. "I knew he had been grinding."

Wainwright still was able to shut down the struggling Rays, though admitted his stuff was not up to standards. He did not seem very worried, though, adding that he pitches without his "A" stuff more often than not.

"Out of 34-35 starts, there’s going to be days where you don’t feel 100 percent," he said. "You may feel 100 percent but your stuff is not 100 percent. You just have to battle and figure out ways to get outs."

Wainwright has recorded a lot of outs since he returned from missing the 2011 season because of Tommy John surgery. Since his return in 2012, he has thrown the fourth-most innings (540 2/3) and the seventh-most pitches (8,051) in the majors.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @StanMcNeal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.