Before he even walked into the room, Adam Wainwright knew the question was coming. So after a few pleasant hellos and greetings, the smiled stayed on his face as he gave his thoughts on being part of an “aging core” with the St. Louis Cardinals.

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“I keep hearing that,” he said with the grin. “Nobody likes being called old, right? But I think they’re right, for the most part. We are aging. We’re just becoming more wise. We’re learning our bodies better and learning how to do things better. Somebody has to get old. And if we’re still playing and older, it means we still have some ability. I think the more and more people talk about that, the more we laugh because we just know Matt Holliday is still going to hit well. We know that Yadier is still going to catch well. And hopefully, we know I’m going to pitch well.”

16-1-17 Adam WainwrightThe topic of aging surfaced when Jason Heyward gave it as a reason he chose to sign with the Chicago Cubs instead of return to St. Louis as a free agent this off-season. Wainwright, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina were pointed out as players that would not be around to finish with Heyward if he signed a 10-year contract with the Cardinals.

“I think it’s fair because that’s been our core in recent years,” continued Wainwright. “It’s been myself and Yadier and Matt. I think it’s fair to point out that the core is getting older. But it’s the same thing that happened before when it was Rolen and Edmonds and Eckstein and Reggie Sanders and Larry Walker and Matt Morris and Chris Carpenter. All of those guys became old at some point, and they passed the baton on to the younger core. That’s what we’re going to have with Kolten and Piscotty and Grichuk and Carlos and Wacha. We still have a very young nucleus aside from us three old guys.”

Wainwright also conceded that the Chicago could be looked at as the favorites for 2016.

“The Cubs beat us in the postseason last year so they earned that right,” he said. “It’s not something where we go home and we write on the wall and look at it every day as motivation. But we certainly relish the opportunity to go out every day and prove everybody wrong. We have some great talent in our organization.

“We have some great talent in our division to compete with us. It’s going to be a battle all year long. I don’t think anybody out there is writing that we’re going to get blown away by the Cubs or the Pirates or anybody else. So I think it’s dangerous to just look at the Cubs, though, when you know that Andrew McCutchen and that great Pirate lineup over there and Clint Hurdle, what they can do.

“A few years ago we were talking about us and the Pirates or us and the Reds or somebody, and the Brewers snuck up and they loved being that team that nobody thought of. We’re looking at all of those teams, and we know we have our work cut out for us.”

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And at 34 years young and well-rested after not throwing his customary 200 innings last year, Wainwright is looking to return to his ace form and lead his team on a deep run into the postseason.

St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm up“I still feel pretty young,” said Wainwright. “Body wise, I feel better than I did a few years ago. I’m not looking at the end yet. I’ll look at the end when it’s the end, and I can sit back and say, ‘OK.’ I’m motivated when I go into the weight room. I’m excited when I’m doing my speed training and my throwing sessions. People used to play until they were 40 all the time – maybe not all the time, but sometimes – it’s more rare nowadays. But I’m not looking to be retiring in the next year or two.”

And as far as the difference between him being able to pitch the end of last season when he returned from the Achilles injury to being ready to pitch right now?

“Light years,” stated Wainwright. “I certainly pushed the envelope as far as being ready to pitch or lot. It came down to that very last week and whether I could pass a couple of tests or not to get back out there. Strength wise, agility wise, I’m doing everything I normally would do in the offseason.”

So with all that being said, it’s still understandable then that one might have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

“I do a little bit, yeah,” admitted Wainwright, focusing more on his readiness to play. “I’m always looking forward to Spring Training. I think missing last year, I told my wife the other day, this is the most excited I’ve been about Spring Training since I can remember. I’m chomping at the bit to get back out there. I just miss pitching. I love pitching. It’s just fun. I miss pitching for this team. I’m real excited for what we can do.”

But what goes through his head when he’s told that he’s old? After the laughter in the room subsided, Wainwright gave more insight to the extra drive that burns inside.

“What goes through your mind?,” he repeated. “Well I mean, you know comparatively to these other 22 year old young bucs I am pretty old. But I can still do what I do pretty well and I’m confident of that. But it is a little motivating, it is a little motivating. There’s a little, ‘oh yeah, I’ll show you’ kind of thing that happens.”

And showtime just happens to begin on April 3rd in Pittsburgh.

 

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