St. Louis Cardinals

Wainwright’s changeup becoming a weapon again

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright throws against the Marlins during a Spring Training game.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright throws against the Marlins during a Spring Training game. dholtmann@bnd.com

Adam Wainwright has more than his curve ball to baffle hitters.

Wainwright, who has relied on his 12-to-6 breaking ball for many years, is mixing in a changeup this spring and he’s pleased with the results.

Wainwright threw three scoreless innings Tuesday as the St. Louis Cardinals pummeled the Miami Marlins 9-2 in Grapefruit League action. He walked none and struck out two, both of them on swings and misses against changeups.

“I like where I’m at. I’ve just got to keep going,” Wainwright said.

Regarding his changeup, Wainwright said he’s always been in favor of reintroducing to his repertoire. Of course, Wainwright’s always been about mixing and matching.

“I threw probably more changeups in the game in three innings than I have an entire game since I’ve been in the big leagues,” he said. I’m really excited about that. ... It’s something I worked hard on in a lot of spring trainings, but I’ve never put the time in to be as diligent about practicing it as I have this spring.”

Why did he get away from the changeup?

“As I started throwing more of a cutter and my slider started getting harder, it kind of took the place of it in a lot of different ways,” Wainwright said. “Now I’m having a lot of fun creating that mix that hopefully the hitters don’t know what’s coming.

“I have to be willing to adjust to whatever the batter tells me to do. I don’t have a 99-mph fastball to just go out there and live on. The hitter always tells me what to do. When you stop looking (at him), you stop trying to be better.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny called Wainwright’s changeup “an improved pitch.”

“Whenever you’re seeing the hitters that are up there taking the swings that they’re taking on it, it’s a great sign,” Matheny said. “Definitely some great results against left-handed hitters.”

With Yadier Molina playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, Wainwright enjoyed an opportunity to work with Carson Kelly, the Cardinals’ top catching prospect.

“(He gives) a great target,” Wainwright said. “He moved around well, set up nice, blocked a couple of (pitches). He called a great game. He’s going to be very, very good catcher in the big leagues.”

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