JUPITER, Fla. — Adam Wainwright had his best start of the spring Thursday against the Marlins, allowing two hits in five innings, striking out three and walking none. It was what the veteran starter needed to continue his ramp-up toward the season.
And then spring was halted and the season was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Now, Wainwright — like so many other players — is playing the waiting game.
“I botched this spring,” Wainwright quipped. “I should have saved the way I felt the other day for the ‘second spring.’ Whenever that is. Because that was really good — I was feeling playoff-baseball mojo. I was feeling good. Just going to try to stay there mentally and keep my arm going to some extent.”
Such a weird time. I'm sad We don't get to play, but it's deeper than just our desire to compete. At our core we're entertainers. We know that a big part of our job is to bring happiness and entertainment to all of you. Looking forward to bringing lots of joy this year! #12in20
— Adam Wainwright (@UncleCharlie50) March 16, 2020
As players figure out what their next steps are, many of them are facing the same question: What now? On Monday, many Cardinals players went to the facility in Jupiter to get their gear, anticipating what Major League Baseball later announced: Opening Day is going to be pushed back even further following Sunday’s recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The Cardinals' facility will not be closed to players who live here, but there will be limited access with no official workouts. Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong, for example, are staying in the area, but they’re both thinking of different ways to get their workouts in away from the facility.
“Tons of uncertainty,” Wainwright said. “We don’t really know where to go, because we don’t know how long this is going to last. We’re going to pack up and we’re going to go where? I have seven people in my family now, five kids and a bunch of stuff. … It’s a lot of packing, and I don’t [want] anybody to feel sorry for us, because we have a great situation.
“The weirdest thing and the saddest thing for us is that we can’t go out and perform for people. That's what we’re made to do, right? We’re here because this is baseball time, and our job is to be a baseball player. Our job at its core is to go out and entertain people. I’ve got tons of hobbies, but what I’m supposed to be doing right now, I’m not allowed to do. It’s kind of hard.”
Veteran reliever Andrew Miller is going to his home in Tampa, Fla., where he said he can work out with a few other players in the area. While he continues to work through the lack of feel he’s encountered this spring, he said he’ll try to maintain a baseline through this time so he’s not starting from “square one” when baseball does return.
“Everybody can be ready for Opening Day,” Miller said. “It’s not the situation you want to be in, but it’s going to be a while.”
Wainwright is going to keep his arm loose like he does in the offseason, when he throws a couple of times a week. During this shutdown, though, he said he expects to throw three or four times a week with a little more intensity than that of an offseason bullpen session.
Wainwright stressed Monday that he doesn’t know any answers to the next steps, what he’s going to do now or even what this means for perhaps his final year as a Cardinal. The one thing he does know, though?
“I’ll never stop competing,” Wainwright said. “If I have to race my daughters around the driveway, that’s what’s going to happen.”
Kim staying put for now
Korean left-hander Kwang-Hyun Kim is also staying in Jupiter for now, along with his interpreter, Craig Choi. Kim is trying to figure out what his next steps are, as he’s unsure how much he can use the facility. He anticipates getting a hotel room in the area after his lease ends at the end of the month.
“As of right now, I just have to follow what the club says,” Kim said. “Normally, I don’t do lifts that much, so for me right now, if I can just do the long-toss until the season starts, that would be great. Right now, I don’t really know what to expect.”
Kim was on track for a rotation spot after not allowing a run in eight innings over four spring appearances. He struck out 11 while walking just one, impressing everyone around him. He hopes to keep his arm loose and throw side sessions when he can use the facility.
Kim’s family — his wife, 5-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son — is safe in South Korea. They were planning on visiting St. Louis during the All-Star break in July this year, but now that’s up the air. Kim makes sure to FaceTime them almost every day.