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Leake caps 'best spring of career'

Special to MLB.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny left the rotation open-ended in beyond Opening Day starter Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright in the second game on Tuesday.

Right-handers Lance Lynn and Michael Wacha will fall somewhere in the rotation along with Friday night's starter, Mike Leake. 

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny left the rotation open-ended in beyond Opening Day starter Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright in the second game on Tuesday.

Right-handers Lance Lynn and Michael Wacha will fall somewhere in the rotation along with Friday night's starter, Mike Leake. 

View Full Game Coverage

Lynn, who is coming off elbow surgery, won 60 games between 2012 and 2015 -- when he pitched 175 regular-season innings. 

"We're still waiting to hear how he feels, especially after throwing [Thursday]," Matheny said. "But that's certainly a consideration."

Wacha was a 17-game winner in 2015, but finished 7-7 with a 5.09 ERA in 138 innings last season.

"If he's healthy, he's going to be good," Matheny said of Wacha. "He was strong, and the ball came out of his hand nice. You can tell he's in a good, physical spot."

Leake consistently worked both sides of the plate on Friday even without a consistent changeup as he threw 89 pitches, leading the Cardinals to a 5-2 victory against Double-A Springfield. 

Greg Garcia, among 11 former Springfield players on the big-league Opening Day roster, broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh with a two-run single. The second runner, Matt Adams, came up gimpy after a feet-first slide, but stayed in to play left field. He later said he was OK.

"We're right there, so you have to start taking it a little more serious," said Leake, who allowed six hits and didn't issue a walk. "The change-up was working here and there. But I think everything was working other than that."

Leake called it, "the best spring I've had in my career," and expressed confidence that he successfully tweaked every aspect of his arsenal, particularly his mechanics.

"I was repeating and being more consistent with the force and energy I'm generating through my wind-up," Leake said.

Prospect Jack Flaherty tossed four shutout innings for Springfield and ended a threat by inducing a double play. Cuban signee Adolis Garcia had two hits and scored Springfield's first run on Eliezer Alvarez's hit to right field. Dennis Ortega's two-out single in the ninth plated Springfield's second run. Matheny pulled all starters except for Leake before the start of the fifth inning.

Grichuk's hand

The Cardinals welcomed Randal Grichuk back to the lineup Friday night, as the left fielder gained medical clearance after nursing a sore hand struck by a pitch in Wednesday's Grapefruit League finale. He singled to right field on the first pitch he saw from Jack Flaherty.

"It was just a little tender, a little sore to squeeze," Grichuk said. "[Thursday], it bothered me to do little movements, like squeezing it and throwing a little bit. But it definitely feels better."

Wong's comments

Second baseman Kolten Wong acknowledged that he has learned a lot since his recent comments raised eyebrows. He said he'd favor a trade if he wasn't going to play.

"I said what I said with emotion. I was caught in the wrong situation and things came out that, while I can't take back, I wish I could rephrase how I said some things," Wong said. "I'm a competitor. I want to be out there every single day regardless because I want to help this team win.

"The message that I want people to understand is I want to be there through thick and thin. There are times when Jedd Gyorko needs to be out there. I know that. I'm not one of those stubborn guys who thinks he needs to be out there every single day."

Springfield's roster is loaded

The tentative roster of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals includes Garcia as well as four prospects per MLBPipeline.com -- right-handers Sandy Alcantara, Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, left-hander Austin Gomber (14). Since Springfield became a Cardinals affiliate in 2005, some 104 of its players have reached the big leagues.

Kary Booher is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cardinals on Friday.

St. Louis Cardinals