JUPITER, Fla. -- The competition got a little tougher for Adam Wainwright, who, in his third Spring Training live batting practice session, was challenged by the offense's biggest bats on Tuesday.
By design, Wainwright threw almost all fastballs to the group, which included Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina, in an effort to establish command down and to both sides of the plate. The only curveball he threw on the day was hung and promptly driven over the fence by Molina.
Afterward, Wainwright described his latest throwing session as another success, though he joked that he's been throwing off the mound for so long now that he feels like he's already completed a full Spring Training. Wainwright, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, has been throwing off the mound here in Florida since Jan. 12. Tuesday actually marked the one-year anniversary for the procedure.
"I don't feel fatigued at all, and that's exactly why I may, every now and then, throw less off the mound or just skip a light side [session]," Wainwright said. "I have thrown so much off the mound that I need to be smart about my [Spring Training] innings before my [regular season] innings. I don't want to burn all my bullets pregame."
Wainwright's velocity ticked up a bit on Tuesday, and he noted afterward that he feels he's in a good place with his delivery motion. His focus with that has been to straighten his body more toward home plate and less off to the left when he follows through.
The Cardinals have plans to get Wainwright into a game sometime next week, though the team has not officially announced which day that will be. He is likely to make five spring starts in preparation for the regular season.
"Today, I felt strong. It felt compact. The delivery felt nice," Wainwright said. "The group I faced today were about as good as you can get. There's something to be said about working your pitches against the best in the game."
Carpenter seeks more consistent delivery
JUPITER, Fla. -- With the emphasis on perfecting his mechanics, Chris Carpenter took the Field 1 mound at the Cardinals' complex on Tuesday to throw to batters for the first time this spring. The session lasted 25 pitches, and it garnered plenty of attention given that Carpenter was the only pitcher on the 40-man roster who hadn't already thrown live batting practice.
Carpenter is on a modified program that has allowed him to use these early days in camp to focus much more on the process than the result. That goal, as he explained it, is to get his delivery motion repeatable in a way that it hasn't been for several seasons.
"I feel like the last few years I haven't paid as much attention to getting my body into proper [position] mechanically," said Carpenter, who went 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA in 2011. "What I was paying attention to was trying to find a way to get the ball to where the glove is. Ultimately, that's what you want to do. But if you pay attention to it mechanically, it's going to be easier to make that consistent throw."
It will still be a while before Carpenter's mechanical consistency is challenged in a game setting. The Cardinals' plan is to keep Carpenter out of Grapefruit League play the first time through the rotation. That would still set the 37-year-old right-hander up to make four starts before the regular season begins.
Carpenter will continue to throw side sessions, and likely at least one more live batting practice, before making that first game appearance.
"I know when I need to be ready and that's Opening Day, not February 28," Carpenter said. "I'm not concerned about [throwing 273 1/3] innings last year. I worked hard this winter. I feel strong. I got prepared to do the things that I normally do."
Cards' goal is to keep Freese healthy
JUPITER, Fla. -- It's been four years since David Freese arrived at Spring Training completely healthy and without limitations. The Cardinals' intention is to keep it that way, even if it means exercising extra caution with Freese's workload from time to time this spring.
That was one of the reasons why the Cardinals had Freese split time with Matt Carpenter during defensive drills on Tuesday. Until now, Freese had been the only third baseman working on the field with the other Major League players.
"It was a good chance for Matt to go over and spend some time over with these guys and also give David a little bit of a break," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was pretty intentional about his workout program this winter, but you just can't translate to being on your feet as long as we're on our feet now."
Matheny added that he had been extremely impressed by how well Freese has been moving, which is notable given the previous foot and ankle injuries the third baseman has recovered from.
"I was talking to my parents and I told them I haven't been this excited since '08 because of how I feel physically," Freese said. "Especially physically, you have to take it just one day at a time, especially when you're recovering from something."
Last spring, Freese was slowed as he continued rehabilitating from ankle surgeries.
As for Carpenter, the alteration to the schedule gave him his first chance to participate in defensive drills alongside the team's most established players.
"It was great," Carpenter said. "Anytime you get the chance to be around veteran players who are the guys that you want to be one day, it's a huge advantage. I just try to kind of, almost like a sponge, just absorb everything that they're doing and the information that they're giving me, so I could learn something or pick up on something here and there."
Carpenter took ground balls at third base during the morning workout period and then stayed on the field after workouts to take some additional grounders at first. Carpenter is showcasing his versatility this spring by playing at a number of different infield and outfield positions.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.