Adam Wainwright required Tommy John surgery after feeling discomfort in his right elbow while throwing batting practice almost exactly one year ago. Earlier today, Wainwright was right back at it, throwing batting practice to teammates at Cardinals’ camp in Jupiter, Florida.
While Wainwright hasn’t felt any soreness or tightness in his surgically-repaired elbow thus far, he told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com that he was relieved to put this first session of batting practice behind him.
“This [gave] me a chance to conquer it,” Wainwright said. “This [gave] me a chance to get over that.”
Wainwright threw both fastballs and breaking pitches to infielder Tyler Greene and minor league first baseman Matt Adams during today’s 11-minute session. He told Langosch that he was pleased with his command and found himself throwing with more intensity than in recent bullpen sessions.
“Each time I throw, I let my body do it naturally,” Wainwright said. “I’m not trying to force anything. I’m out there just going through my delivery and my arm. Whatever comes out of it is what’s going to come out of it. Today, I noticed there was a little more something there then there was before.”
Wainwright was one of the best starting pitchers in the game prior to the surgery, posting a 2.93 ERA from 2007-2010. He eclipsed 230 innings in 2009 and 2010, finishing in the top three for the National League Cy Young Award in each season.
The defending World Series champions won’t have Albert Pujols at first base this season, but the return of Wainwright and the addition of Carlos Beltran should put them in fine position to be contenders once again.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.