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04/01/08 8:08 PM ET

Wainwright won't go on short rest

Right-hander to make next start Saturday vs. Nationals

ST. LOUIS -- Though the Cardinals plan to lean heavily on Adam Wainwright in the early part of the 2008 season, they're not going to push it. Given the opportunity to bump Wainwright up an extra day, the club passed.

Wainwright threw just three innings on Monday before Opening Day was rained out. That provided a chance, if the Redbirds wanted, to bump their emerging ace up and pitch him on short rest. Instead, Wainwright will stick to his original plan, pitching Saturday against the Nationals at Busch Stadium.

"We've got the other guys ready to go," said manager Tony La Russa. "It would disrupt everybody."

Perhaps more important, moving Wainwright forward wouldn't yield any additional starts for him. If he were to pitch on Friday, he could go again on April 9, but five days after that is an off-day. So whether he's moved up or not, his third official start of the year will come on Tuesday, April 15, at home against Milwaukee.

Instead, Braden Looper will pitch on Friday against Washington, and then on April 9. La Russa has said that the Cards will keep Wainwright on his fifth day in the early going, even if it means costing other starters an appearance here and there.

He just won't go on short rest.

"I didn't think it would [happen]," Wainwright said, "just because I threw 40-some pitches plus 30 in the bullpen. So I didn't have any thoughts that they would, but I could have come back."

Wainwright is the clear No. 1 on the Cardinals' staff for as long as the club has to do without Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder. Carpenter is expected back sometime around the All-Star break, following elbow surgery last year. Mulder is coming along well in his recuperation from shoulder surgery and could return in May.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.