Wainwright making progress toward game action

Ace right-hander throws two simulated innings against Cardinals' hitters on Thursday

Wainwright making progress toward game action

JUPITER, Fla. -- In an exercise of building arm strength and sharpening his pitches, Adam Wainwright was on one of the back-field mounds on Thursday and threw approximately 40 pitches during two simulated innings against St. Louis hitters.

It was the second such live batting practice session that Wainwright has thrown this week while he awaits clearance to add running and fielding practice to his daily work. Until he passes those hurdles, the Cardinals will not pitch Wainwright in a Grapefruit League game.

Wainwright expects to undergo another round of tests within the next few days to see if he can increase his mobility work.

"I want to be out there taking [groundballs] and running station to station and leading groups and doing all that, too," said Wainwright, whose normal spring program was interrupted by a mid-February abdominal strain. "But each year is different. This year, it's not smart for me to be running around. We're trying to get me ready for April 5."

With the countdown to Opening Day down to 24 days, Wainwright still has ample time to make three spring starts in advance of the regular-season opener, as long as he makes his Grapefruit League debut by the end of next week. Asked if he felt that would be sufficient preparation for another Opening Day assignment, Wainwright grinned.

"I would never tell you 'No,' would I?" he answered. "If I only had two starts, I'd tell you that was plenty. I think there is way more than enough time for me to get ready."

That process includes not just building up his pitch count, but also getting a better feel for his pitches. On Thursday, Wainwright was less-than-pleased with the command of his fastball, two of which center fielder Peter Bourjos squared up. One of Bourjos' hits caromed off the center-field batters' eye.

"It's a good test," Wainwright said. "I love seeing hitters. They tell you what your stuff needs to do. … Today, the goal was to try and start honing in some of those pitches. I did on about 80 percent of them. And I threw some really bad pitches that got hit. Bourjos put a couple good at-bats on me on balls that big league hitters are supposed to hit."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.