Notes: Wainwright gives club best start

Notes: Wainwright enjoys best start

JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Wainwright finally pitched well enough to be pleased with himself. Mostly.

Wainwright turned in the best start by a Cardinal this spring on Monday, striking out six with no walks over six shutout innings. He fanned Marlins superstar Miguel Cabrera twice in his final Grapefruit League appearance.

"Obviously I made some bad pitches along the way, but today was my best performance," Wainwright said. "I felt like I was a pitcher today and not just a thrower, no doubt about that. It was better today. I felt good on the mound and I felt comfortable in my delivery. Only a few pitches got away from me.

"That's what Spring Training is for. It's a building process. And today was the best I've felt in spring."

Wainwright's next outing will come on Saturday in the Cardinals' last exhibition game, against the Indians in Memphis. He'll sit six days after that before making the first start of his big-league career against the Astros on April 7.

The only issue for Wainwright came when Cabrera hit a rocket shot back up the middle in the first inning. The ball caromed off a fortunate spot on the inside of Wainwright's right heel, starting an unusual 1-6-4-3 double play.

"He hit a laser off my heel where I got a double-play ball, and I was lucky," Wainwright said. "It was about 104 [miles per hour] off my heel. Three inches towards my ankle there and I'm in bad shape -- we're doing a whole different interview now."

Molina swings: Yadier Molina took seven at-bats bouncing from one Minor League game to another on Monday, but he didn't play any defense. Molina is still trying to return from right shoulder soreness that has sidelined him for five days.

"He's improving every day, and when we figure there's absolutely no way he can take a setback, you'll see him out there," manager Tony La Russa said. "It will be sometime this week, but we're in no hurry."

The manager said that he has no doubt whatsoever about Molina's availability for Sunday's season opener.

Izzy or isn't he? Jason Isringhausen had hoped to pitch consecutive days for the first time this spring on Monday and Tuesday, but a somewhat difficult outing on Monday put that in some doubt. Isringhausen faced six batters, though he only needed 19 pitches to do so.

"If I had to guess, I'd say I probably wouldn't go tomorrow," he said after the game on Monday. "There's no sense in me trying to push it down here. I probably won't throw tomorrow, and then I'll just throw Friday in Memphis or wherever [pitching coach Dave Duncan] wants me to."

Another for Edmonds: Conversely, it's likely that Jim Edmonds will play on Tuesday, a third straight game. Edmonds played 4 1/2 innings on Monday, going 0-for-3 with two groundouts and a liner to left field.

"I felt better today," Edmonds said after his second game of the spring. "A little better. I felt funny trying to get out of the box. That's the flow of the game. You can go out and run, and you can hit, but to hit and run and do all those things, that doesn't just come out overnight."

If Edmonds does play Tuesday, he would probably be held out of Wednesday's game against the Orioles at Fort Lauderdale, with lefty Erik Bedard starting for Baltimore.

Spiezio the favorite: The closer Opening Night gets, the more the lineups look like they will once the season starts. That's a clear indication in favor of Scott Spiezio, who's getting the bulk of the playing time in right field -- including starts the past two days.

La Russa spoke strongly in favor of Spiezio's status following Monday's game, and it appears the utility man has a good chance of being St. Louis' primary right fielder in the early going.

"It sure looks like now when we play, he's part of our best team," La Russa said.

Weather report: The forecast calls for a first-pitch temperature of 79 degrees on Tuesday, with winds once again up close to 20 mph, a few clouds and only a very slight chance of rain.

Coming up: The Cardinals play in Jupiter for the third straight day on Tuesday. Chris Carpenter will make his final start of the spring when he faces the Dodgers at 12:05 p.m. CT. Former Cardinal Brett Tomko will start for Los Angeles.

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