JUPITER, Fla. — Adam Wainwright preferred to view his velocity as trending upward from his previous start rather than his velocity being down from last season.
Wainwright’s maximum velocity on Thursday was 86.2 miles per hour, below his 2022 average velocity of 88.6 mph. Though that was slightly up from his max velocity of 85.6 in his previous start.
He explained what he believes has caused that difference in velocity.
“I had some back spasms stuff going on a couple weeks ago, and it shut a muscle down that I’m really trying to get to turn back on right now,” Wainwright said.
Wainwright said he’s got to get his glutes “firing” better than they’ve been recently. The glute issue has also affected his running.
Wainwright said he and pitching coach Dusty Blake were excited about the potential that he might throw harder this coming season than he did last season based on his early bullpen sessions, but then the spasms started just before pitchers and catchers officially began workouts.
Wainwright also revealed that he burned the index finger on his pitching hand from grabbing a hot pan of sausage for his son. The resulting blister opened up during Thursday’s outing.
While he admitted being frustrated with his recent performance, Wainwright said the training staff and Blake have been encouraged by the progress he has made.
Wainwright also pointed out that he’ll have nine days until he throws in a game for Team USA in the Word Baseball Classic.
“The good thing was we made strides in the right direction,” Wainwright said. “If I was throwing 82 today, we were going to have a real problem. I popped a couple of 86s, which I’m not real proud about, but it’s going the right way.”
Wainwright allowed three runs on five hits, all extra-base hits, and he struck out two. He gave up a solo home run to Jose Abreu in his third and final inning. He threw 48 pitches (32 strikes).
Wainwright dealt with defensive miscues in the second inning, an error by third baseman Brendan Donovan on a fly ball lost in the sun by left fielder Juan Yepez that went for a double.
“He battled through a couple non-plays, had to get five outs there in the (second) with the ground ball to third and the fly ball to left,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “He still pitched through it. I know he was battling a couple different things today. So it was good to see him get through three.”
Flaherty moved back
Starting pitcher Jack Flaherty will have his first exhibition game appearance pushed back from Saturday to Sunday. Flaherty delayed his between starts bullpen session a day due to lower body discomfort, according to Marmol.
As a result, he’ll pitch on Sunday along with the previously-scheduled starter Jordan Montgomery. Steven Matz is still scheduled to start on Monday.
Saturday’s likely starter is now left-hander Connor Thomas in place of Flaherty.
VerHagen, McGreevy pitch in simulated game
Right-handers Drew VerHagen and Michael McGreevy each pitched two innings in a simulated game on a back field prior to Thursday’s Grapefruit League game against the Astros. They’re both in the discussion for bullpen spots.
VerHagen allowed two hits (one extra-base hit), walked two and struck out one in two scoreless innings, plus two additional batters.
Meanwhile, McGreevy had a rough start to his two-inning outing. He allowed four runs on five hits, including a pair of doubles, and recorded just one out before they rolled the inning due to his high pitch count. McGreevy bounced back with a scoreless second inning. He allowed one hit and struck out a batter in the second.
Winn dazzles with defense
Prospect Masyn Winn, who made his second start this spring at shortstop, showed off the highly-touted throwing arm in the sixth inning. Winn, rated the second-best position player in the Cardinals farm system behind Jordan Walker, made a sliding stop on a ball going to his left on what seemed a likely single up the middle by the Astros’ Grae Kessinger. Winn got to his feet and unleashed a throw that registered a velocity of 99.9 mph. Win also went 1 for 2 with a single and a strikeout. … Shortstop Paul DeJong still has not played the field during spring training exhibition games. He has been dealing with arm fatigue. He’s taken grounders and done light throwing during pregame work on the field at Roger Dean Stadium but has only served as a designated hitter in games this spring. He participated in the simulated game on Thursday morning as a hitter. He’ll be re-evaluated after he throws on the field on Friday, Marmol said. … Former White Sox slugger and 2020 AL MVP Jose Abreu greeted Cardinals bench coach Joe McEwing on the field prior to Thursday’s game with a bear hug that lifted McEwing off the ground. Abreu, who signed with the Astros as a free agent this offseason, had been with the White Sox since he signed as an amateur free agent in 2013. McEwing had spent 16 years in the White Sox organization, 11 years as part of the major-league coaching staff.
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