Wacha optimistic after his latest outing

Righty thinks his command is on the right track, despite allowing pair of homers to Red Sox

Wacha optimistic after his latest outing

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha is optimistic about his progress this spring. But he knows there's room to do more, as he prepares for the regular season.

He allowed three runs and seven hits over four-plus innings during a 3-1, rain-shortened loss to the Red Sox on Saturday at JetBlue Park.

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"The command, it's definitely on the right track," Wacha said. "It was where I wanted it to be. The pitches are coming off the way I want them to. I definitely need a little bit more time to get them where I need them to be. But they're on the right track."

There were a few blemishes for Wacha on Saturday with the wind blowing out to center field. In the fourth, Pablo Sandoval launched a two-run home run to center. Then, in the fifth, Mookie Betts led off with a home run to the same vicinity, before Matt Bowman entered in relief.

Sandoval's two-run homer

Still, both Wacha and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny were pleased with the outing, which included strikeouts of Betts, Chris Young and David Ortiz. Wacha threw 64 pitches, 39 for strikes.

"That was good stuff," Matheny said. "I mean, he wasn't fine-tuned with the heater, but he was really close. Much better than what we've seen, and I think real close to being dialed in."

"It [stinks] giving up runs," Wacha said. "But I feel like my pitches that are coming off my hand, I feel like they're pretty much where I want them to be. I've got to keep working between starts and refining those pitches and still getting the command on them that I need."

Before Saturday, Wacha had allowed four runs and eight hits with three strikeouts and one walk in four innings this spring. He said he feels comfortable delivering his fastball. He's also pleased with where his changeup and curveball stand.

Wacha fans Harper

If the Cardinals' projected regular-season rotation holds, Wacha is in line to start St. Louis' home opener against Milwaukee on April 11. He has given little consideration to the possibility.

"I couldn't tell you that I've even thought about that," Wacha said. "I don't even know when I'm pitching. ... The home opener is the last thing on my mind, right now."

Nonetheless, if Wacha's outing on Saturday is an indicator of how he'll begin the season, Matheny sees more positives than negatives on the horizon.

"I'll take that, right now," Matheny said. "I don't think either of those [home run] balls are out at Pittsburgh. I know they're not out at our park. So, both hit well. Wouldn't have had the damage."

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