Wainwright close to clearance for Grapefruit action

Righty feels good in fielding simulations, could appear in game next week

Wainwright close to clearance for Grapefruit action

JUPITER, Fla. -- With about 15 minutes of fielding simulations on Saturday morning, Adam Wainwright showed the Cardinals enough uninhibited mobility that they now plan to have him pitch in a simulated game on Monday morning.

That game will be played on the backfields of the Cardinals' spring complex and will feature Minor League players hitting and defending behind Wainwright. The Cardinals will have the same setup on Wednesday for Lance Lynn, who was temporarily pulled out of the rotation because of a left hip flexor strain.

"[We're] making it more realistic to replicate the game experience," manager Mike Matheny explained.

The schedule isn't likely by chance either. By pitching on Monday, Wainwright, assuming he then pitches every fifth day for the rest of Spring Training, would line up to start the Cardinals' season opener in Chicago. He would make three Grapefruit League starts.

Lynn would be pitching two days behind Wainwright, which would line him up to pitch the second game at Wrigley Field as well as the team's home opener on April 13.

Wainwright had been limited in running and fielding drills, but he began some lateral mobility exercises on Friday and then took a backfield mound on Saturday to practice fielding scenarios.

He threw several fastballs with bullpen coach Blaise Ilsley standing in as a hitter and then fielded a series of bunts hit by pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. Wainwright fielded and threw to all three bases before closing by reacting to a few suicide squeeze attempts. He also simulated covering first base.

"Everything felt good," Wainwright said afterward. "I think everything is very positive."

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.