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  • Wainwright speeds towards return

    but what's the role?

    Matthew Leach
    MLB.com

    ATLANTA -- The seemingly glacial pace of Adam Wainwright's rehabilitation from a sprained middle finger may soon change drastically. So might Wainwright's role. But nobody's entirely sure about any of it at this point, truth be told.

    This much is certain: Wainwright is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. And if that goes as planned, he will likely go on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Friday.

    The right-hander, who began the season as the Cardinals' ace, will be the starting pitcher somewhere -- likely at Double-A Springfield -- but will not pitch very deep into the game.

    "The first couple of rehab starts he makes, he'll start the games but we'll just want to get him back in action," said pitching coach Dave Duncan. "He's not going to be throwing a lot of pitches."

    Meanwhile, general manager John Mozeliak said Monday night on FSN Midwest's broadcast of the Cards' game against Atlanta that he anticipates having Wainwright very soon -- within two weeks, even. Wainwright said he had no trouble envisioning such a scenario, even though he hasn't faced a hitter under any circumstances since he sustained the injury on June 7.

    "Physically, I'll be in a position to do either one [start or relieve] in less than that," he said.

    Mozeliak clarified his comments later in the evening, but still projected optimism for a rapid return by Wainwright.

    "Last week he threw two 50-pitch bullpen [sessions]," Mozeliak said. "So it's not inconceivable that he could come back [quickly]. It all depends how he reacts from throwing 25 intense pitches. We don't know what the answer will be. But he has been able to do a lot of his normal preparation."

    Three possibilities exist at this time. Wainwright could come back soon as a starter on a relatively limited pitch count. He could come back as a reliever, but building toward rejoining the starting rotation. Or he could return to the back of the Cardinals' bullpen, where he was the anchor during the 2006 World Series run.

    "If they feel like they need some more help down there, then I think that's where I'll go," he said. "If they feel like I need to be starting, then I'll probably be starting. Obviously, starting is my career path, but I don't mind [pitching in relief if it's needed]."

    The Cardinals have not tipped their hand officially, and Wainwright has consistently expressed a preference for starting, but it becomes clearer every day that the possibility is at least being taken seriously.

    "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
    Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
    -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

  • #2
    I don't know and they don't know.
    "At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed."
    – Frederick Douglass, doing an amazing job since 1852

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