A (Hopefully Light) Pain In The Gut

You know, there are a lot of ways that you would like spring training to start.  A good speech by Mike Matheny (which is on tap for today, I think).  Lots of “best shape of my life” stories.  Perhaps a goofy photo or two of players in red.

Way, way, WAY down the list is having the staff ace return to St. Louis for a medical exam.

Adam Wainwright left camp yesterday with an abdominal pain that neither he nor the team doctors could really figure out.  The good news is that the pain had already lessened and, given where we are in the baseball calendar, it made sense to go check it out rather than just hoping it’d continue to go away.  As Wainwright said, “Now is not the time to push,” which is completely true.  Much better a few days off in spring than a lot of days off in the season.

It sounds like it’s one of those minor issues that gets a bit overblown because it’s spring, there’s no games to distract, and everything seems magnified as we soak in the coverage after a long winter.  Given the club was going to try to go slow with him anyway given the number of innings that he’s pitched over the last few years, it’s not even enough to qualify as a setback, at least as of yet.  It surely sounds like it will be resolved by the end of the week and we’ll all forget about it in two.

Yet anytime there is an injury, there’s concern, overblown or not.  This rotation is great if healthy but health concerns run up and down this lineup, from Michael Wacha to Carlos Martinez (though that’s more of a limiting-innings-due-to-youth concern) to Jaime Garcia, if he’s in it.  There’s a lot of ifs here and adding another one in the form of Wainwright isn’t the most conducive to good mental health.  While the Cards have a lot of depth to cover a Wainwright absence, such as Garcia or Marco Gonzales, the fact is that you just don’t replace an ace that easily.  I’m not saying John Mozeliak gets on the phone with the Phillies if Waino was going to miss significant time, but I think he might listen a little longer if they called.

Again, though, this is probably one of those early spring stories that is completely forgotten about by time the Clydesdales trot around Busch Stadium.  We hope so, at least.

In more entertaining and enjoyable news, the Cards also have brought in Jose Molina to be a guest catching instructor for the spring.  Molina’s not officially retired, of course–he will be having knee surgery in May, which is probably why he’s still a free agent–but he’s getting to that baseball age where the end is coming if it’s not here and finding out if coaching has appeal is a good transitional step.  Given that Bengie Molina has been coaching for a few years now and Yadier Molina is basically a manager on the field, I expect Jose’s going to take to this whole coaching thing rather well.  You have to figure folks like Michael Ohlman and Carson Kelly are going to be the real beneficiaries of two Molinas and a Matheny helping out with the finer points of being behind the plate.

Bernie Miklasz has a really nice story on Bill DeWitt Jr. out today.   I hadn’t really thought about the difference him being in baseball forever (when your jersey is in the Hall of Fame, that’s something, even if it’s there because Eddie Gaedel wore it) would affect him being a solid owner.  As Bernie points out, most of the owners are just rich guys that wanted a team, for better or worse.  They don’t know the ins and outs of baseball like someone that grew up in it.  Not that they can’t learn, but that immersion puts you well ahead of everyone else and the results have shown it.  I know some don’t agree–and we’ll get to the results of the Cardinal Approval Ratings soon–but ownership is a key reason this has been a golden age for Cardinal baseball.

Things step up a notch today as pitchers face live hitters, even the hitters aren’t doing much swinging.  We’re a week and a day away from the first spring training game against the Marlins, so slowly but surely, the season is coming!

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