Wainwright in mix to start Cards' home opener

April 2nd, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- Midway through his daily pregame chat with the Cardinals' media corps, manager Mike Matheny paused for a moment, his head slowly turning from the outfield toward home plate as right-hander jogged past.

"He knows I'm watching," Matheny quipped.

A left hamstring injury kept Wainwright out of his final scheduled Grapefruit League and put him on the disabled list to start the season, but he's still in the running to start the Cardinals' home opener on Thursday evening against the D-backs.

"We don't take anything off the table," Matheny said. "We'll take in all of the information and see what happens."

Wainwright went 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA in three spring starts, striking out 10 with six walks in 10 2/3 innings. He was on track to start St. Louis' second game of the season when he suffered the injury during a conditioning drill. The Cardinals decided to err on the side of caution with their 36-year-old ace.

"That's the kind of injury that one step out of the box or off the mound can become something that takes longer," Matheny said. "That wasn't a risk we felt was worth taking at this particular time.

"Everyone's pretty excited about where he is right now. He's going to continue to move around and see if there's anything that can slow down the progress he's made."

With Wainwright out, rookie filled the fifth spot in St. Louis' rotation and will start the second game of the Cardinals' series at Miller Park on Tuesday.

Flaherty made his MLB debut last season, posting an 0-2 record with a 6.33 ERA in six appearances (five starts).

"He's improved his stuff," Matheny said ."The ball movement now with the sinker he has ... it opens up a big part of the plate and helps him with lefties. He's a young pitcher who's getting better."