No regrets: Cardinals' Wainwright feels like he's home

News-DemocratJanuary 18, 2014 

— Even after learning of Clayton Kershaw's new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright had no regrets.

Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, signed a seven-year, $215 million deal Tuesday --the richest contract ever awarded to a pitcher.

Wainwright shunned free agency last March, signing a five-year, $97.5 million contract extension to remain with the Cardinals. Wainwright placed second to Kershaw in Cy Young balloting after Kershaw went 16-9 with a league-low 1.83 ERA.

"Heck, no. Not at all," Wainwright replied to questions about whether he second-guessed his decision to re-sign. "I texted Clayton congratulations. I'm happy for him.

"I was so happy to go into this offseason and not have to worry about being a free agent. I'm right where I want to be."

Wainwright, 32, will earn $19.5 million this season, while Kershaw, 25, will make $4 million. Next season, Wainwright's salary will remain $19.5 million when Kershaw's skyrockets to $30 million.

"I'm not worried about that in the least," Wainwright said. "What I want to do at the end of this contract --just like I did in the other one --is say I lived up to the contract I signed. I lived up to the expectations the team signed me to perform and I had fun in doing so. I have great confidence that I'm going to do that.

"The contract that he signed is amazing. There's no doubt about it. But he's also 25 years old. Compared to him, I'm an old man."

Wainwright, who was 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA last season, can't envision being anywhere but in St. Louis. The Cardinals mean so much to him that he wept during the press conference to announce his extension.

"I have no regrets," Wainwright said. "Once I signed that deal, that was the deal I wanted to sign. I didn't have to sign it. We worked to get to a number that I felt like made it fair for both sides. This is where I wanted to be.

"Do I think I could have made more money on the free-agent market? Absolutely. But you can't buy happiness. I'm not going to be happier anywhere else but where I am right now."

Don't forget Miller

Right-hander Michael Wacha has been all the rage since he was 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA in five postseason starts and was the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series.

But Wainwright said fans shouldn't forget about another rookie, Shelby Miller, who won 15 games and finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting.

"Michael, if he does what he did down the stretch for a whole season, he's going to be in the Cy Young talks," Wainwright said. "We've got several pitchers that could be in those same talks.

"Lost in the shuffle is Shelby's season, where he won 15 games and was a Rookie of the Year candidate. I think sometimes we forget what he was able to do for us last year. Winning 15 games as a rookie is pretty awesome."

Carpenter speechless

There was no media availability Saturday for former pitcher Chris Carpenter, who signed from 9 to 11 a.m. and immediately left.

The explanation? A family commitment.

Carpenter, 38, retired as an active player in November. He was 95-44 with a 3.07 ERA in nine seasons with the Cardinals.

Carpenter is eyeing a role in the club's front office, and Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak will accommodate him.

"Basically, I'm looking at constructing a job description for him," Mozeliak said. "I do know that he is excited to do something in the organization. I can tell you all that it's not in uniform.

"He wants to, for the first year, maybe two, get exposure to what happens upstairs. We're going to try to come up with the curriculum for him that allows him to get exposure to the different elements of our front office. I welcome that."

Mozeliak said Carpenter and his insights "could be valuable."

"I think the key is: How do we harness it?" he said. "How do we come up with something that isn't too overwhelming in the first month or year but also keeps him interested?"

Hall of Fame

Team Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and President Bill DeWitt III announced the establishment of the Cardinals' new Hall of Fame. The museum will be 8,000 square feet and will be located within Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village.

Dedication ceremonies will be held this spring.

The Hall of Fame's inaugural class of 22, to be enshrined Aug. 16, will consist of: Jim Bottomley, Ken Boyer, Lou Brock, Jack Buck, August A. "Gussie" Busch Jr., Dizzy Dean, Frank Frisch, Bob Gibson, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Whitey Herzog, Rogers Hornsby, Tony La Russa, Joe Medwick, Johnny Mize, Stan Musial, Branch Rickey, Red Schoendienst, Enos Slaughter, Ozzie Smith, Billy Southworth and Bruce Sutter.

A 12-member "Red Ribbon" committee will induct one veteran into the Hall of Fame --a player who has been retired for more than 40 years. The committee also will formulate a ballot of six to 10 players, retired less than 40 years, and present the list to fans. The top two vote-getters will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals organization in any year can opt to induct one other individual, perhaps a coach, broadcaster or front-office employee. No more than four people will be enshrined during a year.

"We are very excited to be able to recognize the exceptional careers and significant achievements of some of the greatest names in Cardinals history," said DeWitt Jr. "Induction into the Cardinals Hall of Fame will be one of the highest honors the team can bestow."

Descalso still unsigned

The Cardinals and backup infielder Daniel Descalso could be headed for an arbitration hearing.

Descalso, who batted .238 last year, is asking for $1.65 million this season, while the Cardinals have offered just $930,000.

"I never felt like we were that close," Mozeliak said. "We may see a hearing. Historically, that's (rarely) been the case. But we'll just see. We haven't been in a room for a long time."

No Cardinals players has been to arbitration since 1999 when pitcher Darren Oliver lost his case to the Cardinals and was paid $3.55 million. Oliver had asked for $4.15 million.

Arbitration hearings will be held Feb. 1-21.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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