MILWAUKEE -- The Cardinals won't know until Monday exactly how long they'll be without ace Adam Wainwright, but the muted reaction to a 5-3 win over the Brewers on Saturday spoke louder than any preliminary diagnosis.
On Sunday morning, Wainwright was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left Achilles and left ankle injury, which he sustained after breaking from the batter's box Saturday on a fifth-inning popup. Limping around in a walking boot after Saturday's game, Wainwright confirmed that the injury is in the back of his ankle -- or, as manager Mike Matheny described it, "a bad spot."
Wainwright will travel back to St. Louis with the team after Sunday's game and then have an MRI exam taken on his ankle on Monday. The MRI will determine the severity of the injury and how long Wainwright will be sidelined. Achilles injuries often require months of rehab, which could cost Wainwright the season.
For the short term, the Cardinals replaced Wainwright on the roster with Cody Stanley. Stanley gives the club additional catching depth as Yadier Molina heals from being hit by a foul tip on his right knee.
As for Wainwright, he is not yet ready to concede the worst until he visits with a doctor on Monday.
"What I've been told is don't even think anything until the doctor tells you what it is," he said. "I've not gotten my hopes up or down. I'm just going to try to be a positive influence here today and tomorrow and see what happens. … Everything right now is just speculation."
Wainwright said there was not extensive swelling in his ankle, though it was also tightly wrapped inside that walking boot. He added that he did not feel a popping sensation at the time of injury.
"I thought I got hit by something," he explained. "If you look at the replay, I kind of get out of the box and I look back thinking, 'Gosh, the catcher's mask must have hit me. The bat must have hit me or something."
But nothing had. Wainwright hobbled a few steps before being helped off the field by Matheny and one of the team's athletic trainers.
Losing Wainwright for any period of time would be a substantial hit to the Cardinals, who currently boast the Majors' best rotation ERA at 1.97. It is the lowest ERA by the Cardinals' starting pitchers through 16 games since the 1943 staff posted a 1.78 mark in the same timeframe.
"It's pretty somber right now just because I don't know of a more respected guy on the team, but also this stuff happens," Matheny said. "You lose guys. We went into this [season] realizing that that's a high probability that we'd have somebody go down at some point and have to have somebody step up. That's part of why we need some depth in the organization and have other guys ready to go. But right now, we're not going to get too far ahead until we see things for sure on Monday. But [it's] definitely not a good thing."
Lefty Marco Gonzales was positioned as the next in line should the Cardinals have a need in the big-league rotation, though his availability is currently questionable. The Cardinals placed Gonzales on the Triple-A disabled list on Wednesday and planned to have him skip his next start as he deals with some shoulder tightness.
Tim Cooney and Tyler Lyons are among the other starting options the Cardinals have waiting in Memphis. Jaime Garcia, who threw a simulated game on Saturday, is not far enough along in his rehab process to be a factor.