JUPITER, Fla. --Manager Mike Matheny confirmed Friday that Adam Wainwright will start for the St. Louis Cardinals in their season opener April 1 against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix.
"I think it's pretty apparent that's the way we're going," Matheny said. "We've been trying to get him ready for that first day in Arizona. It's something he certainly deserves. He's the leader on our pitching staff."
Wainwright said he never will downplay an Opening Day assignment.
"I'm excited about it," he said Friday after he pitched the Cardinals past the Washington Nationals 5-1 at Roger Dean Stadium. "It's a huge honor. It really is. I don't think it's going to get rained out, either, in that park."
Wainwright's first Opening Day start in 2008, against the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium, was postponed by rain in the third inning with the Cardinals ahead 5-1. Chase Field has a retractable roof, eliminating the possibility of another washed-out opener.
This will be Wainwright's third start on Opening Day. The other was in 2009 against Pittsburgh in St. Louis. Wainwright did not receive a decision in a game the Pirates won 6-4 with a four-run ninth against Jason Motte.
"To be an Opening Day starter for a big-league ballclub ... is a tremendous honor, something I don't take lightly," Wainwright said. "I'll be very motivated, very excited to make that start. It's something I'm extremely proud of. Now I've just got to go out and wear it well."
Wainwright, who allowed one run on three hits in six innings Friday, is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in four spring starts. He became the first Cardinals starter to pitch six innings this spring.
Wainwright, who was 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA in 32 games last season, will make two more spring-training starts. However, he said his stuff already is where it needs to be for the regular season.
"My arm feels very good. It feels solid," Wainwright said. "And my delivery feels solid for the first time in a long, long time.
"At this point, I'm just conditioning, getting my arm strong enough to go further into the game."
Matheny did not announce his starter for the Cardinals' home opener April 8 against Cincinnati.
Matheny also said the team will continue to mull its pending decision on who will land the fifth-starter's job. Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller remain in hot competition for the spot, although it is believed Kelly has the edge.
Asked whether he was ready to make a decision, Matheny sarcastically said: "Yeah, I had a revelation in my dream last night."
Clearly, Matheny is weary of discussing the topic, but it will remain on the front burner until the team announces its plans.
Both Kelly and Miller threw well Thursday against Atlanta, with Kelly getting the start and allowing one run in four innings.
"We're still just excited about how the guys pitched (Thursday)," Matheny said.
Asked whether he would be disappointed if he wasn't asked about the subject on a daily basis, Matheny said: "Nope, not even a little --since we're being honest."
Sutter in camp
Hall of Fame reliever Bruce Sutter was in camp Friday as a guest instructor.
Sutter declined an interview request from the media, but Matheny was glad to have him at the complex.
"He walked in about 6 o'clock and sat down and just started talking shop," Matheny said. "We love doing that. That's what we spend our time doing. He was just (talking about) a couple of things he noticed. The guys will appreciate some of his viewpoints. He's got a great baseball mind."
Motte has developed a close relationship with Sutter.
"It's great," Motte said. "I talked to him a bunch over the offseason. I heard that he might come down. I texted him to see whether the rumors were true. He's kind of a low-key guy. He was like, 'I don't want to come in there and be in anyone's way.' I said, 'I'm pretty sure you won't be in anyone's way.'
"He's got a lot of knowledge that he can share with a bunch of people, me included. So he's a great guy to have down here."
Other former Cardinals who have been in camp this spring are Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee and Jim Edmonds. Former manager Whitey Herzog will be in Jupiter next weekend.
Reliever Marc Rzepczynski was cleared to pitch Friday after an appointment with Dr. Steven Schnell, an ophthalmologist in Jupiter.
Rzepczynski said Schnell told him there remains slight inflammation in his injured left eye, but that it was not serious enough to cause problems.
"It's the best news I've had in a week," said Rzepczynski, who suffered the injury earlier this spring in an accident while golfing.
"(Schnell) said my vision is completely back to normal."
Rzepczynski still can't wear his contacts for a few more days, but he explained that his vision is OK for day games and that the only reason he wears contacts is to help him more easily see catcher Yadier Molina's signs.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.