Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wainwright in Line to Start Home Opener

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wainwright in Line to Start Home Opener

Article excerpt

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. * When the regular season begins, veteran Adam Wainwright probably will be slotted as No. 2 in the Cardinals' rotation, thus putting him in line to make his sixth home-opening start April 5 at Busch Stadium against Arizona.

The Cardinals have adjusted their spring pitching rotation so that after Monday's off day, opening day starter Carlos Martinez will pitch on normal four days' rest against Miami on Tuesday. Wainwright will start Wednesday's game against Houston.

That indicates that Wainwright will start the second game of the season on March 31 in New York. That then would put him in line to pitch the home opener.

"Why don't you speculate away?" teased manager Mike Matheny.

Wainwright has started five previous home openers. He is 1-2 with one no-decision and one game that was rained out in 2008 when he was ahead by five runs early. This is the last year of a five-year contract for the 36-year-old, who is coming off elbow surgery.

In his first two spring starts, Wainwright has a 1.59 earned run average for 5 2/3 innings, although he has walked five. He will have three more starts this spring.

On a day when this move became apparent, 24-year-old Luke Weaver pitched like a No. 1 starter, retiring all 12 men he faced, four of them on strikeouts, in the Cardinals' 4-3 exhibition win against the Washington Nationals.

"Beautiful. Wow. Impressive," said Matheny.

Twice Weaver retired dangerous Bryce Harper on groundouts, once on a cutter and once on a curveball. The curveball is a pitch the Cardinals' staff had hoped Weaver would be adding to his arsenal and Weaver said, "I threw a couple of 3-2 curveballs, which is really good for my confidence."

Weaver apparently has benefited from an offseason weight program that has shot him up some 15 pounds to 185. "I've reached back on a couple (pitches) and been really pleased, more shocked, on how the ball is coming out," said Weaver.

OZUNA STRUGGLING, J. MARTINEZ NOT

New slugger Marcell Ozuna fanned three more times, giving him 13 in 28 at-bats. He has just four hits for a .143 average and slammed his bat down at one point Sunday.

"You've got one of the easiest-going guys," said Matheny, "but no matter who are, when you come over to a new club, you always feel that pressure that you've got to show the world and show Cardinal Nation and your teammates. As much as we tell him we already know, he just wants to do it and put an exclamation point on it."

Jose Martinez cracked a two-run homer, his second of the spring, and also had a single.

"What we've seen this spring is pretty much a carryover from the end of the (2017) season when he was batting fourth," said Matheny, "and we couldn't wait to watch him walk up to the plate. I wouldn't hesitate to put him anywhere (in the lineup). When Jose's going right, he's going to be in the lineup. …

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