St. Louis Cardinals

Wainwright reflects on injury that has him on disabled list

Adam Wainwright is on the 10-day disabled list, but he expects to return to the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation next week in Milwaukee against the Brewers.

Wainwright, 35, is suffering from tightness in the middle of his back.

“It’s short-term type stuff,” Wainwright said Wednesday, discussing the injury for the first time since being placed on the disabled list Tuesday. “Earlier in my career when I was younger, I had some lower-back stuff that was a lot more debilitating than this. I’ll miss one start and then we’ll see.”

Wainwright’s originally scheduled turn would have been Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Rookie Luke Weaver, who is 9-1 with a 1.91 ERA in 13 starts at Class AAA Memphis, will make the start.

Wainwright is eager to see Weaver pitch, but not under these circumstances.

“This is the first time that I can recall that I’ve ever been skipped or been on the DL for something that wasn’t season-altering,” Wainwright said. “I have a prescribed three days of rest, and I’m sure the training staff is going to have a litany of stuff for me to do in the meantime.

“It’s not the time I want a breather, for sure. We’re right in the thick of things and we’re about to go to Milwaukee. I definitely want to be out there.”

Wainwright (11-5, 4.89 ERA) injured himself while stretching in the outfield before his start Saturday at venerable Wrigley Field in Chicago.

“I had my body warm and did my normal stuff inside,” Wainwright said. “I was out in right field stretching and sort of felt like a cramping sensation a little bit. It wasn’t terrible. It was manageable and I pitched. After I got done pitching, it really locked up on me, unfortunately. I spent most of that night on the floor with my feet up on the table.”

Until then, Wainwright wasn’t overly concerned.

“Sometimes when you’re a pitcher, a little something happens — you’ve got the flu, you’ve got a little back ailment or a little arm something — and it focuses you more and you end up honing things in a little better,” Wainwright said. “I think that’s kind of what happened.”

Wainwright worked one of his best games of the season against the Cubs, surrendering just two runs on four hits in 7 2/3 innings. He left with the Cardinals ahead 2-1, but reliever Matt Bowman allowed the game-tying single to Kris Bryant and Brett Cecil permitted what proved to be the game-winning single to Anthony Rizzo.

Wainwright and manager Mike Matheny engaged in an extended and animated conversation on the mound before Matheny summoned Bowman from the bullpen.

“I told him, ‘Listen, every fiber in my body is telling me I can get this guy (Bryant) out right now,’” Wainwright said. “I got him out other times in the game; he got one blooper to right off me. Kris Bryant is a great player, but I’m confident I can get him out.

“I’ve never admitted this on the mound before, which I think was a trigger to (Matheny) to get me the heck out of there. I said, ‘But I don’t feel very good. My body doesn’t feel very good right now. I’m battling through some things right now. I’m going to get him out, but just know that I don’t feel very good.’ He was like, ‘All right, you’re definitely done.’”

Wainwright was visibly upset after Bryant’s soft single to left-center against Bowman.

“The thing that bothered me so much about it was if I would have looked (Matheny) right in the face and said, which I always do, ‘Dude, I’ve got this. Go back to the dugout,’ then I’m in that game,” Wainwright said. “In my mind, I didn’t give myself a chance to (continue). I knew I was going to get him out, but I also knew I might be screwing it up by continuing to pitch.”

Wainwright is praying one thing doesn’t happen.

“If we end up in a situation where we lose by one game again, I’m just going to be sick about it,” he said, a reference to the Cardinals missing the playoffs by one game in 2016.

Wainwright then paused.

“Honestly, I think this was the smart play,” he said. 

David Wilhelm: @DavidMWilhelm