Wainwright may be lost for season

Published 3:44 am Monday, April 27, 2015

The Associated Press


Adam Wainwright tried his best to hide the stress of the situation.

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The St. Louis Cardinals ace is out at least 15 days because of an injury to his Achilles and left ankle. It could be longer, much longer — possibly even for the whole season.

“There’s nothing I can do about it, so might as well not be nervous about it or worried about it,” Wainwright said after Sunday’s 6-3 loss at Milwaukee. “Worry doesn’t do anybody any good.”

Wainwright was still wearing a protective boot after the game. He saw the wry humor in the observation the last time he was seriously injured, in 2011, the Cardinals won the World Series.

“Exactly. I’m a team player,” said Wainwright, who missed the ’11 season after reconstructive elbow surgery. “I will hurt myself if it means we’re going to win the World Series.”

Hurt while batting Saturday night in Milwaukee, Wainwright was scheduled for an MRI on Monday that likely will reveal how long he’ll be gone.

“Unfortunately, it is not great news,” general manager John Mozeliak said in a video on the Cardinals’ website. “Any way you slice it, he is going to be missed for a while and potentially losing the season is very real.”

Several published reports said the Cardinals expect Wainwright to be out for the season. Manager Mike Matheny would only say the pitcher will be examined when the team returns to St. Louis.

“I don’t like to speculate until you have the full information, but if you ask me how I feel. . . not good,” Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “All those rumors floating around seem to have some validity to them.”

The 33-year-old Wainwright was put on the 15-day disabled list Sunday. He was hurt while stumbling out of the batter’s box after hitting a popup in the fifth inning at Miller Park.

Several top pitchers in recent years have been lost for most of a season or all of it — Matt Harvey, Yu Darvish, Jose Fernandez and Zack Wheeler, among them.

But those were related to pitching, with Tommy John surgery the result. Wainwright had that same procedure and missed the 2011 season when St. Louis won the World Series.

This time, Wainwright got hurt hitting, a few days after Washington ace Max Scherzer injured his thumb batting. Those kind of incidents are likely to ramp up the long AL vs. NL debate on the designated hitter, as in whether it’s worth having pitchers bat.

Wainwright held a 2-0 lead when he got hurt. He was helped off the field by a trainer and left the game in Milwaukee.

“My foot just shut down on me,” he said after the game.

Wainwright is 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA in four starts this season.

The three-time All-Star is 121-67 for St. Louis, and was their star closer in 2006 when they won the World Series.

Helped by Wainwright, the Cardinals have reached the National League Championship Series in each of the last four seasons. They lost to Boston in the 2013 World Series.

“You have to move beyond it,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said before Sunday’s game. “A couple years ago, we lost our 3, 4, 5 hitters for the year. The season-ending ones are tough.”

Matheny said any length of time without Wainwright would be tough.

“I think the test is going to be, with Adam, and everyone in here can see, the difference in our attitude,” Matheny said. “We treasure every win we have, but it was different in here last night. We’re just going to hopefully let the guys go back out there and play.”

“They had a little time to think about some of this and the response and the answer is, we knew that some tests were going to come. And, this is a big one that we’re getting early. Let’s see what we’re made of,” he said.

The likely replacement in the St. Louis rotation would have been lefty Marco Gonzales, but he’s also on the DL at Triple-A Memphis with tightness in his shoulder after making three minor league starts.

Like Michael Wacha before him, Gonzales made it to the majors less than a year after being drafted in the first round, and he was in the running for the fifth starter spot in spring training along with Carlos Martinez and Jaime Garcia.

Garcia had the inside track on the fifth spot before experiencing a setback in his comeback from thoracic outlet surgery and he’s also on the DL, working his way back.

Lance Lynn, the losing pitcher Sunday, said there was no extra pressure to step up and fill Wainwright’s shoes.

“No,” Lynn said, “we’ve just got to be ourselves.”

Other possibilities for Thursday’s start at home against Philadelphia are lefties Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney, and right-hander Zach Petrick. Lyons pitched with St. Louis last year.

“I’ll just cover the whole thing and say we’re looking at everybody and try to think long term, try to think short term and have a long list of guys that we think could come in here and help us out,” Matheny said. “Just trying to put it together right now, but not ruling out anybody.”