Adam Wainwright off to awful start in return from Tommy John surgery

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Adam Wainwright gave up a three-run homer to Ian Stewart in the first and a grand slam to Bryan LaHair in the third Friday as the Cardinals lost 9-5 to the Cubs in their home opener.

Wainwright was taken out after allowing eight runs in three innings. He fell to 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA on the young season.

In Wainwright’s defense, LaHair’s slam was wind-aided and still barely cleared the fence in left-center. A better left fielder than Matt Holliday might have been able to go up and take it away.

Still, Wainwright wasn’t impressive at all. His velocity actually appears to have regressed since the beginning of the spring, and he walked a pair of batters leading up to LaHair’s slam.

Fortunately, all of the Cardinals’ other starters have looked impressive thus far, and they should be able to hang in the NL Central race even with Chris Carpenter out indefinitely and Wainwright struggling out of the gate. They’re currently 5-1 in games not started by Wainwright.

Shohei Ohtani medically cleared to begin throwing progression

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The Angels released a medical update on P/DH Shohei Ohtani Thursday evening. Ohtani was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The right-hander’s sprained UCL showed improved healing and, as a result, he has been cleared to begin a throwing progression.

Ohtani, 24, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after his June 6 start against the Royals and hasn’t pitched since, though he has been in the lineup as a hitter since July 3. It was initially believed he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then the thought was that Ohtani wouldn’t pitch again for the rest of the season, but this update suggests a possibility he could return to the mound before the season is over.

In nine starts, Ohtani put together a 3.10 ERA with a 61/20 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he batted .283/.365/.522 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances.