Lance Lynn insists his first game in more than a year will be like many of the others.
Lynn, a 29-year-old right-hander, will make his first start since Oct. 10, 2015, when the St. Louis Cardinals conclude a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday. It will be Lynn’s first regular-season start since Oct. 4, 2015.
“It’s game three of the season. That’s about it,” Lynn said Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be going against an old friend (John Lackey), so it should be exciting.”
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“I got more than I would have liked in the spring. It’s too damn long, in my opinion, But we had to accommodate the World Baseball Classic,” said Lynn, who closed the spring with a simulated game on a back field at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.
“I felt good and finished strong in the little back-field game, whatever you want to call it,” he said. “I’m ready to go.”
Lynn was ready to pitch late last season, but the Cardinals decided not to rush him back. His game Wednesday will culminate more than a year of hard work to return to action.
Even with that, Lynn continued to downplay the moment.
“It’s just another game to me. I don’t see it as anything else,” he said. “When you start trying to build it up like that, you weren’t ready to go to start spring training or whatever. I feel good, and I’m ready to go.
“I’ve pitched plenty of games in my life. If you’ve pitched one, you’ve already done it. It’s not going to be any different than the World Series, Opening Day or your first big-league start, so I think it’s going to be all right.”
I’ve pitched plenty of games in my life. If you’ve pitched one, you’ve already done it. It’s not going to be any different than the World Series, Opening Day or your first big-league start, so I think it’s going to be all right.
Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn
Lynn doesn’t know what his future holds in St. Louis. He said he made it a point Sunday to embrace the Cardinals Hall of Famers during the pregame ceremony because he wasn’t sure he would get another opportunity. Lynn is not signed beyond this season.
“Unfortunately, the way this game works, you don’t know if you’re going to have another (Opening Day) here,” Lynn said. “I took it all in and enjoyed it. I’ve loved my time here, and I hopefully have a lot more of it. But if that’s my last Opening Day as a Cardinals, I took it all in.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny called Lynn “a horse.”
“He’s a guy who wants to go out and do what he loves to do, which is compete,” Matheny said. “I know he feels good. ... He looks like he never missed a beat. I’m anxious to watch him get back out there and have a big year.”
He’s a guy who wants to go out and do what he loves to do, which is compete. I know he feels good. ... He looks like he never missed a beat. I’m anxious to watch him get back out there and have a big year.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on Lance Lynn
Lynn said he can separate his performance from what might happen with his future.
“I have the ability not to think very much, so that helps me out a lot,” Lynn cracked. “I try to take it one game at a time, as I always have. Show up, try to make pitches, try to help the team win. If I do that, everything will take care of itself.”
Lynn’s preference is to remain with the Cardinals. If he signs a new deal, he wouldn’t expect it to be until the All-Star break, after he has made at least 15 starts.
“I would like to be a Cardinal for life,” he said. “If that doesn’t happen, then I’ll see what’s out there. That’s pretty much been my stance all the time. I don’t want to be a free agent, but if that comes up, then I’ll take it and run with it and see where it goes.”
Lynn has high expectations for himself. He is 61-39 in his career and won 18 games in 2012.
“I’m looking forward to just doing what I’m capable of, trying to help the team win and enjoying the season,” Lynn said. “The sky’s the limit. I’m just coming into my own. I’m not even 30 yet.”