Wainwright says he’s ready for spring start

St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright isn’t trying to

make too big of a deal about his upcoming spring training

start.

Sure, it’s his first time pitching in a game since he was

sidelined in 2010 and missed the entire 2011 season because of

elbow surgery.

But after a year of rehab and waiting to get back on the mound,

Wainwright knows Friday’s start against Minnesota won’t be just

another day either.

”I’m normally not a butterfly guy. I expect some butterflies,”

he said Sunday after throwing his final batting practice session in

preparation for the appearance. ”There have been several real key

moments in my career that I had some butterflies. This year when I

pitch at Busch Stadium for the first time, there’ll probably be

some butterflies. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Wainwright threw around 30 pitches Sunday and said he approached

it with the kind of intensity he usually reserves for game days

during the regular season.

Wainwright will likely throw a bullpen session before boarding

the bus for Friday for the 2 1/2 hour ride to Ft. Myers. But he

said he was maximizing the time against hitters.

”I wanted it to be as close to a simulated game as possible,”

he said. ”I knew I walked (Tyler Greene), so I went out and

stretched the rest of that inning. Just to simulate what I would do

in an inning. I did my normal warmups between innings and tried to

think what I would normally think.

”There were a couple of pitches I wouldn’t have done during a

game. But mostly I was trying to be me out there. This is my last

hurdle and my last go of it.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny watched the session and said that

it’s no secret that the coaching staff has been very deliberate

with a guy they expect to again be at the core of the pitching

rotation alongside Chris Carpenter.

”He’s been the one guy we’ve been clear about from the

beginning that we’ve got to stay on the program with him,” Matheny

said. ”He’s been on track and to stay on track is really

important.”

Matheny said Wainwright having to ride the bus Friday is just

part of that.

”He understands,” Matheny said. ”From this point forward,

it’s working towards opening day. And if you get the buzzard luck

of it on a trip up north or out west – it’s just how it

falls.”

Interestingly enough, the Ft. Myers trip will bring about

another first for Wainwright, who has never been to that facility

before.

”Just a drive across the state for a couple of innings,” he

said. ”At this point I could care less where it is. I’d take a bus

to Arizona to pitch in a game. I’m excited to get back on the

hill.”

Wainwright acknowledged that this spring has been somewhat of an

adjustment because he hasn’t been on his normal schedule because of

the elbow rehab.

It’s why he said that Saturday may actually be a bigger day than

Friday, because that’s when he’ll wake up and know exactly how his

arm responded.

”Yeah, it’s different because in year’s past I know exactly how

I’m gonna feel pretty much. So it was kind of a system that worked

and got my arm ready more rapidly,” he said. ”This year it’s kind

of a different system that’s their system that I’ve been doing this

whole time. So I really don’t know how my arm is gonna respond

until the next day. But everything’s responding well.”

That has included the absence of the typical elbow tendinitis

Wainwright has felt in previous springs.

But having not experienced being on a mound for a game since he

won his 20th game in 2010, the only thing on the former All-Star’s

mind is just being out there again.

”Yeah, it’s been awhile,” he said. ”Strangely it went fast.

Winning helped last year. And offseason down here in Florida is not

exactly the worst place to be. I’ve been here longer than everybody

else, but there are a lot worse places I could be.”

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