3/16/2014 6:10 P.M. ET
Cards ace Wainwright works on breaking ball
By Christina De Nicola / Special to MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Each Spring Training start, Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright works on a different element of his repertoire in preparation for Opening Day.
The focus of his third spring start, in which he allowed three runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and no walks over 4 1/3 innings, was command of his breaking ball.
"I only threw one, maybe two for balls. Most of them were strikes," said Wainwright, who threw 74 pitches (48 strikes). "The second one, I threw a curveball [that] was in the dirt on purpose because we were up 0-2. I only threw one out of the strike zone on accident."
Wainwright believed there were 15-16 borderline pitches that could've been called strikes that swayed his pitch count. He plans on honing them an inch or two so that it doesn't happen again.
"He's still working on some things, and while he's working he's still making very good pitches," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We're seeing a little more of the curveball. Not a big deal right now to get that thing going. He knows where he needs to have it. Overall I thought it was a better day than it showed."
Last spring, Wainwright introduced his pitches in the following order: fastball, curveball, changeup and cutter. He switched things up in 2014 after getting "curveball happy" during the second half of last season.
The eight-year veteran hopes to become more versatile with what pitches he goes to in various counts after he noticed hitters waiting on his breaking ball.
"I got predictable last year," Wainwright said. "Even though it's still a very good pitch, most of the time it doesn't matter if I execute, I'm going to get an out usually. But I don't want every time I get to 0-2 for a hitter to sit there and know that a curveball's coming."
With two starts remaining before Opening Day, Wainwright will now begin to put it all together and mold them for the season.
Over three spring outings, he has given up four runs on 10 hits in 9 2/3 innings. His first start was delayed a day by a rainout. In order to stay on schedule for the season opener, he went on three days' rest against the Mets last Tuesday. Sunday marked his first appearance following a normal routine.
"If I get guys sitting on my breaking ball, I've got them where I want them," Wainwright said. "That's the one I want them to try and hit. I also don't want to have to rely just on that when I have four good pitches."
Motte to throw second live BP session Monday
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nothing can rival the intensity of pitching in a high-pressure situation, but Cardinals right-hander Jason Motte will continue to try to replicate that during the next step of his recovery.
Motte, who had Tommy John surgery last year and missed the entire season, will throw his second live batting practice to teammates on Monday. His first live BP was on Friday. Before that, he had only thrown bullpen sessions.
"It feels good," Motte said. "[It's] definitely more than throwing a bullpen. It's like actually doing baseball stuff. … It's a big step. It's not just throwing a bullpen anymore, it's actually going out there facing hitters knowing those guys are going to be swinging and actually try to do stuff. It's not just throwing balls in there. It was more intensity, more adrenaline than a bullpen, and I recovered well. Taking another step forward."
The 31-year-old doesn't know what his velocity has been so far, but he said both of his pitches have felt good. They haven't been ramped up to full throttle yet.
Rather than rush his return, Motte has taken the rehabbing process in stride. When the team departs Florida for the regular season, he will likely stay behind for extended Spring Training.
"That was the first time throwing out there," said Motte, who holds a career 17-13 record and 2.87 ERA. "It was more effort than my bullpens. I felt like it was coming out more just because of the adrenaline and everything. But even with that there's still steps of doing this the first time and getting comfortable where you're letting go a little more and you're letting it go all the way."
Cards return to using DH against Mets
JUPITER, Fla. -- One day after starter Joe Kelly went 3-for-3 at the plate, the Cardinals returned to the designated hitter for Sunday's game against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium.
Kelly, who drove in two runs and scored twice, did so in the first game St. Louis pitchers hit this spring.
Sunday's starter Adam Wainwright, owner of a .205 average with six home runs and 33 RBIs in eight Major League seasons, will have to wait until his next outing to pick up a bat. Matt Holliday was the DH, batting third in the order.
"He wasn't happy," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I just told him it wasn't our decision. Blame it on the Mets, which isn't altogether true. He blamed [bench coach Mike] Aldrete, so I'm good with it."
New York brought a split squad, with half of its team in Las Vegas for Big League Weekend against the Cubs.
Matheny took prior trips to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., into account when filling out a lineup for Friday. St. Louis initially planned for pitchers to hit after Tuesday's day off.
"This could've been one of those days that we did [hit]," Matheny said. "The reason we've done it definitely with the Braves is that's something we've had in the past been an issue.
"We showed up there and weren't quite ready, so we just prepared knowing that they do like having their pitchers hit. Unfortunately for us, the pitchers did hit yesterday."
• The Cardinals reassigned righty Zach Petrick and outfielder James Ramsey to Minor League camp. With those moves, St. Louis now has 34 roster players and 10 non-roster invitees remaining in big league camp.
• Twenty-three players will be making the trip to Fort Myers, Fla., for a rematch of the 2013 World Series, including outfielders Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay, infielders Matt Adams, Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma and Kolten Wong and catcher Tony Cruz.
• St. Louis added right-hander Scott McGregor to Major League camp as a non-roster invitee. He allowed two runs on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in one inning.
"I think it's a great reward to some of these young kids that we bring over on occasion when they do a nice job," Matheny said. "They've got an opportunity to make us notice."
• Righty Carlos Martinez will pitch Wednesday against the Twins at Roger Dean Stadium following Tuesday's day off.
• Infielder Mark Ellis (knee tightness) sat out fielding drills but did take swings during batting practice on Sunday, and Matheny expects him back on Wednesday.
"He's a little sore, but he'll be fine," Matheny said. "Just one of those veteran guys that we know knows his body very well."
• The hope is that recently signed Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz will join the big league club for Spring Training experience once his visa issues have been resolved.
Diaz, 23, is allowed to work out with the team but cannot play in Grapefruit League games until the visa is processed in Mexico. He collected two hits in his Minor League Spring Training debut on Saturday.
"I heard rumor that that may happen sooner than later," Matheny said of Diaz's possible appearance.
Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.