Notes: Wainwright sees live action

Notes: Wainwright sees live action

JUPITER, Fla. -- It was an eventful morning for Adam Wainwright on Saturday.

The second-year right-hander, a leading candidate for one of three open spots in the Cardinals starting rotation, threw on the stadium field rather than a back field at the Roger Dean Stadium complex for the first time this spring. He worked two simulated innings for the first time this spring. And he took a batted ball off his chest.

All in a day's work for Wainwright, who also fielded a slew of questions from national media about his transition from relief to starting.

Wainwright blitzed hitters in his first inning, sending down the first two men he faced in three-pitch strikeouts. After he sat down and got back up for a second inning, he was a bit less sharp, but that wasn't unexpected.

"I felt stronger today than I did last time out," he said. "I guess that's what you want. My second inning I yanked some pitches, but other than that it was OK. I was happy with the work I got in today. It's a building process."

During his second inning, he was hit in the chest by a one-hopper off the bat of Chris Duncan. Wainwright kept pitching, dinged but essentially unaffected.

"It's Wainwright's fault for giving him something he can hit back at him," quipped pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Wainwright's next throw will be a bullpen session on Monday. After that, he'll take the ball in the Redbirds' Grapefruit League opener, Feb. 28 against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium.

Wells wows 'em: Every bit as impressive as Wainwright, if not more, was new acquisition Kip Wells. The right-hander showed outstanding movement and solid command in a live BP session.

"He had every pitch that he throws working," Duncan said. "And I mean he was hitting his spots as good as you can hit them. You don't expect a guy to be that sharp with every pitch that he throws at this point in Spring Training."

Wells will throw to hitters one more time before he makes his first game appearance.

It's no secret: Manager Tony La Russa hardly needed to let anyone know who his Opening Day starter will be, since Chris Carpenter is the undisputed ace of the St. Louis staff. Jokingly asked when he would decide on a pitcher for April 1, though, he played along with reporters.

"If ever there was an April Fool's joke that wouldn't work, it's naming somebody other than Carp," La Russa said. "No way I'm taking that bait."

Who's pitching first: Left-hander Troy Cate will be the first Cardinal to throw a pitch in anger this spring. Cate will start Monday's game against Florida Atlantic University at Roger Dean Stadium. He'll be followed by Kelvin Jimenez, Dennis Dove, Andy Cavazos and Mark Worrell. Following Wainwright in Wednesday's game against the Marlins will be Mike Smith, Randy Flores, Mike Sillman, Brian Falkenborg and Josh Hancock.

La Russa also revealed all but one member of his starting lineup for the game against FAU. He'll send out Tagg Bozied (first base), Edgar Gonzalez (second), Travis Hanson (third), Brendan Ryan (shortstop) and outfielders Colby Rasmus, Cody Haerther and Ryan Ludwick. More than one of the Cards' young catchers will get playing time in the game against the Owls.

Izzy update: Jason Isringhausen remains on schedule as he progresses through his spring program. Isringhausen threw 34 pitches in a side session on Saturday. He's expected to throw sides for another week and a half before facing hitters on approximately March 8.

"Of the 34 pitches he threw, there were only four pitches where his delivery wasn't just right on time," Duncan said. "A couple of them early, a couple of them late. That's pretty consistent. That's what our main goal is, is to get his delivery back under control, which he's doing a good job of. If he does, we feel like his stuff will be there."

The original Eck to visit: The Cardinals will be calling on the voice of some tremendous experience on Tuesday. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, an ex-Cardinal and a long-time teammate of La Russa and Duncan in Oakland, will visit with St. Louis relievers in a morning meeting. Eckersley is a frequent visitor to Cards camp.

Bits and pieces: John Rodriguez was hit in the leg by a pitch on Saturday but continued to work out. Rodriguez pronounced himself fine after the day's work. ... NFL coach Bill Parcells dropped in on camp on Saturday. ... Season-ticket holders at Roger Dean Stadium were allowed in to watch the team work out on the main stadium field. They also were permitted to take pictures with the World Series trophy and were provided with an autograph session with several Cards players.

Weather report: Saturday brought comfortable breezes and temperatures in the mid-70s. It should be a little warmer on Sunday, with temps starting in the 70s at the beginning of the workout and hitting the low 80s by the afternoon. A few clouds might drop in, but no rain is expected.

Coming up: Sunday is the last day before the Cards get some competition against somebody in a different uniform. The team may hold an intrasquad game, which La Russa calls a "coaches game," at the end of Sunday's workout.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.