Waino confident Cards can contend for title

Ace says 'there's no reason to talk about the Cubs today'

Waino confident Cards can contend for title

JUPITER, Fla. -- Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright acknowledged that he has heard all the World Series chatter about the divisional-rival Cubs. He briefly addressed the subject after delivering four mostly solid innings Saturday afternoon in his second spring start.

"There's no reason to talk about the Cubs today. We'll deal with the Chicago Cubs when we play the Chicago Cubs," Wainwright said after the Cardinals had staged a ninth-inning rally to defeat the visiting Astros, 4-3, at Roger Dean Stadium.

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Wainwright, already penciled in to be the Opening Day starter on April 3, allowed two runs, including a solo homer by Astros second baseman Danny Worth in the second inning. He recorded two strikeouts and issued one walk, threw 52 pitches of which 33 were strikes, and said he was overall pleased with his second outing.

"The important thing for me today was doing a better job executing," said Wainwright, who missed much of last season with a ruptured right Achilles. "My leg is feeling great. I backed off a hair in several different ways and tried to really focus on driving the ball through the target and did a much better job of that today. Made some good pitches today. I still made a couple of mistakes; overall I was efficient."

One of the mistakes was a fastball he served up to Worth, who jumped on it and deposited the ball over the left-field wall. Worth added an RBI double off Wainwright in his second at-bat.

"When you throw the ball in the middle of the plate, you're going to get punished for it," Wainwright said. "Not necessarily saying that he didn't earn that, because he made a good swing. He made a couple good swings on me."

Wainwright said he worked on tweaking some things since his last spring start Monday, when he walked three in two innings.

"Most of the time, I was ahead in the count, most of the time throwing the ball exactly where I wanted to," Wainwright said of his outing Saturday. "So for a second start out there, that's a great spot to build on."

Getting back to the Cubs and World Series talk, Wainwright didn't hesitate to express his thoughts on the Cardinals' chances this season.

"I am very biased. I'm a homer. I'm all those things," Wainwright said. "I'm optimistically, enthusiastically rooting and expecting us to win the World Series every single year. Anybody who criticizes me for that is exactly right, and I don't apologize for that. I'm very excited about this team this year. I think our pitching staff has a chance to be very special, and I know we've got some position players that are going to shine this year. What I do know is that the talent in this room is the same or better than it was last year, in my mind. I think our bullpen is maybe the best it's been since I've been here."

Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.