Waino: 'Whatever's in store for me, I'll be ready'

Injured veteran right-hander addresses future for first time

August 8th, 2018

MIAMI -- One step closer to possibly returning to the mound, maybe for the last time in a Cardinals uniform, did something Wednesday he said he wasn't going to do. He addressed his future.

"I want to see how things end, but it would be really surprising to me if I came out and said I'm retiring," said Wainwright, who is in the final year of his contract and, at age 36, has missed chunks of three of the last four seasons due to injuries. "One thing is for sure: Whatever is in store for me, I'll be ready for it. And I'm OK with that."

Standing at his locker in the visiting clubhouse at Marlins Park, Wainwright explained the particulars of his latest, last-ditch effort to overcome the elbow irritation that has limited his season to four stressful starts. The pain-free, max-effort bullpen he threw Tuesday means a simulated game on Friday in Jupiter, Fla., against Minor League hitters. Then possibly a rehab assignment, which could precede a September return. Maybe. If.

"If I'm not prepared, I'm not ready, I'm not going to push to be on the team unless I'm ready to get outs," Wainwright said. "These young guys are doing a great job pitching, so I need to be able to look those guys in the face and say, 'I can help y'all.'"

Wainwright also outlined his developing plan on how to handle what happens afterwards, whether he makes it back or not. In doing so, he'd engaged in the type of midseason conversation Wainwright had hoped to avoid. In February, he called an impromptu press conference at the Cardinals' spring complex to announce he would not answer questions about anything having to do with post-2018 until, well after 2018. But after his season screeched to a halt in May, then sputtered in the trainer's room in the months that followed, Wainwright realized that wouldn't be possible. The topic followed him wherever he went.

"Everyone asks me," Wainwright said. "Fans do. Family does. Friends do. I have a lot of outside things I want to do when I'm done playing, whenever that is, and people involved in that want to know. I say, 'Relax. We have plenty of time. I'm a young lad, right?'"

In the end, the decision may not be Wainwright's to make. He will turn 37 later this month. His body has repeatedly failed him. Still, he has realized there is a certain part of his personality he can't shut off.

"I was on the way home from the field [the other day] and there is a point on the way to my house where you can either go straight or you can go right," Wainwright recalled. "Whatever the car in front of me does, I do the opposite and see if I can beat them around to the other side -- following all traffic laws in the process, of course. But the point that my wife made was, 'Do you understand that you're such a competitor, you're going to keep competing no matter what. So you better know that you know you want to retire before you do that.'

"I [try to] beat my kids upstairs. They've got to earn it. They're not going to just get a free handout. So it's a fair thought. I don't need a farewell tour … If it means after the season I need to do something else to the backside of my elbow that I've never heard anybody else having to do in the history of the game, then I'll do it and we'll see. But at the moment, I'm not trying to think about post-postseason stuff just yet."


Back in Florida, will get a welcomed chance to reconnect in person with his newborn twins this week, when he travels home to Jupiter on the Cardinals' off-day on Thursday. Mikolas' daughter, Madelyn, and son, Miles Jr., were born six weeks premature last month. Though they remain in neonatal intensive care, Mikolas said "they are not in danger or anything."

Still, Mikolas has pitched with more than baseball on his mind for much of the past three weeks, though it has hardly affected his performance. After firing seven strong innings on Tuesday, Mikolas improved to 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break, though it was hardly a break. Mikolas had to skip the All-Star Game and catch an emergency flight home after his wife, Lauren, went into labor early. Lauren and the couple's first daughter, Lillianne, were in attendance at Marlins Park for Tuesday's game.

"It's tough, but I try to remember that I'm out here doing my job for them," Mikolas said of his newborns. "Doing the best I can to make them proud, so they can look back and say while we were fighting for our lives coming out, our dad was fighting for us, too."


Cardinals first-round pick Nolan Gorman had no problem conquering the Appalachian League, hitting .345 with 11 home runs in 37 games in his first taste of professional baseball. That production earned the third baseman a promotion to Class A Peoria on Wednesday. St. Louis took Gorman, considered by some to be the most advanced high school hitter in this year's Draft class, with the No. 19 overall selection in June. He'll join No. 75 overall pick Luken Baker and 2015 first-round pick Nick Plummer on the Chiefs' active roster.