Adam Wainwright undecided on retirement

ST. LOUIS — In the wake of Saturday’s loss in the season-ending Wild Card series, when emotions were still running high and tears were still flowing inside the Cardinals clubhouse, veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright n Wasn’t quite ready to contemplate the inevitable yet.

What’s it going to be like to never throw to receiver Yadier Molina again? Also, there’s this: Will Wainwright join retired Cardinals legends Albert Pujols and Molina and never throw one of his 12-6 curveballs again?

“Have I thought of that?” Well, everyone asks me about it,” Wainwright said in disbelief. “We’ll see what happens. We should know very soon if anything happens. Otherwise it was a good race and thank you, St. Louis.

Wainwright, 41, could be forgiven for not being fully prepared to consider such a monumental decision given he assumed the Cardinals still had plenty of time left in their season. After a year in which he and Molina set the NL/AL record for career debuts by a battery, Pujols made an emotional push to and through 700 homers and the Cardinals won the NL Central for the first time in three years, Wainwright fully understood St. Louis had a magical playoff run.

It could have happened if they hadn’t completely melted away in a ninth-inning meltdown of a 6-3 loss to the Phillies in Game 1 on Friday. And when Aaron Nola completely silenced the Cardinals bats in a 2-0 loss on Saturday, St Louis had been swept from the playoffs, and the careers of Pujols and Molina had ended with unexpected abruptness.

Wainwright, who has yet to reveal whether he plans to return in 2023, admitted he was completely taken aback by the season ending with a whimper instead of another magical moment. Coming back to 2022 was easy after going 17-7 with a 3.05 ERA the previous season; this scenario, however, makes the call much more difficult.

“There was so much magic this season with Albert and Yadi, and I just thought, ‘We can’t go out like this,'” said Wainwright, who spent the early stages of Game 2 in the bullpen. relievers and said he was ready to pitch in Game 3 if the series had gone that far. “It was just too special, what we had going on. With our two guys here and what they brought to the table, I always thought we were going to win.

Wainwright has been accustomed to winning throughout his 18-year career, racking up 195 wins, four top-5 finishes in the NL Cy Young Award voting and a World Series ring as the closest in 2006. He was injured in the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series. championship season. Among active pitchers, Wainwright ranks first in complete games (28); fifth in wins (195), strikeouts (2,147) and quality starts (242); and eighth in ERA (3.38).

Miles Mikolas, the unlucky loser of Saturday’s Game 2, said he had already started to pressure Wainwright to come back, stressing: “I already told him, ‘I’ll see you in the spring. I hope it’s not as a coach, because he’s such an irreplaceable guy like Yadi and Albert. You know, if he comes back to mind, he’ll be 100% ready. I hope that’s the choice he makes because I could really use another year of Waino.

Last season was something of an anomaly as the 6-foot-7 Wainwright struggled so hard in the streak that he didn’t get a chance to pitch in the Wild Card series against the advancing Phillies. That indignity, he said, will play a part in his decision on whether he will pitch beyond this season – one way or another.

“Well, you can never tell,” Wainwright said when asked if he would be motivated by an 11-12 record and going over the two playoff games. “I’ll tell you this: I don’t like not starting a playoff series. So you can take it two ways – you can take it as it was a good run or you can take it as motivation to never let this happen again.

Wainwright explained earlier in the season how one of his childhood heroes growing up in Georgia, John Smoltz, “never looked good” wearing a Cardinals uniform after the Temple pitcher of fame has spent much of his career with the Braves. He added that he would never see himself wearing another team’s uniform – and perhaps that’s why Wainwright was still in uniform an hour after the last pitch in Saturday’s loss.

What Wainwright also can’t imagine doing is throwing to a catcher other than Molina, who ended his 19-year career with the Cardinals on Saturday with a hit in his last at-bat. Already the winningest starting battery in MLB history (213 wins), Wainwright and Molina teamed up to set a season-ending NL/AL record of durability (328 starts). Their 2,155 innings rank first in Cardinals history and fourth all-time. Only 412 1/3 of Wainwright’s innings have been pitched to a receiver other than Molina’s start.

So will Wainwright go on without the player and close friend who has been his personal receiver for much of the past 18 seasons?

“If that happens, it will never be the same again,” he said candidly. “But, if not, I would have had the greatest receiver that ever caught me all the time.”


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