Cards move on without Wainwright
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals are stung by Adam Wainwright's season-ending elbow injury but they aren't devastated. At the very least, they aren't acting devastated.
"Every day I wake up I wish we had Adam. But we don't, and that's part of the game,'' said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
General manager John Mozeliak said every day someone holds their hand out, suggesting condolences over the loss of Wainwright, who went 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA and finished second to Roy Halladay for the NL Cy Young award. The message from their camp, though, is that they don't need anyone feeling sorry for them.
"It's a big loss. (But) we're not in dire straits,'' Mozeliak said.
The Cardinals' rotation, which looked fabulous on paper before Wainwright's injury, is now down to probably slightly above average with Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia. The fifth pitcher, who may be reliever Kyle McClellan, has yet to be determined.
"I think the rotation is still good enough to make the playoffs, and when you get in, anything can happen,'' said left fielder Matt Holliday.
Mozeliak said they believed it was close in ability to Philadelphia's rotation, which is considered baseball's best, but is now admittedly below that group.
"We're going to have to outslug some people,'' Mozeliak said.
The first order of business is to figure out who the No. 5 guy is. McClellan, who went 1-4 with a 2.27 ERA in 75 1/3 innings last year, all in relief, will have a chance to win the final spot. Veterans Ian Snell and Miguel Batista and former No. 1 draft choice Adam Ottavino may also get a look if McClelland proves ill-equipped to make the conversion.
La Russa said one of the things he learned long ago about spring training is "not to fall in or out of love'' with players, based on a short spring sample. But La Russa admitted that in this case they would have to make a judgment quickly "to some degree.''
The Cardinals are giving it two weeks before considering outside help. Kevin Millwood is a free agent, as is old Cardinal Jeff Weaver. Joe Blanton could be available in trade, though Phillies people are still saying they expect him to make their fifth start April 7.
La Russa seems confident the answer is already in camp, though.
"[With] our team, we're deep enough to find a pitcher," he said.