Adam Wainwright is “pretty stinking close” to “perfect rehab”

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Adam Wainwright is 12 months removed from Tommy John elbow surgery and one month into a throwing program designed to get him ready for spring training, and the Cardinals right-hander is making excellent progress in his recovery.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that he threw 30 pitches to a catcher on Monday and then made 50 throws from 110 feet on Tuesday. He’s even started mixing in a few curveballs, although Wainwright admitted that he’s not sure if the throwing program allows for off-speed stuff yet.

He’s expected to begin throwing off a mound within a few weeks and will arrive in Florida a month ahead of spring training to continue his throwing program, which Wainwright called “pretty stinking close” to “the perfect rehab.”

Albert Pujols is obviously impossible to replace in the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup, but if Carlos Beltran stays healthy and Wainwright picks up where he left off as one of the league’s elite starters there’s a chance the team may be even stronger in 2012.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.