Wainwright's current throwing sessions are intensive. Following a brief warmup, he makes 20 throws from 120 feet, then throws 10 times off a mound to a standing catcher. He takes a break, then repeats the 30 throws, takes another break, and repeats one more time.
He follows that protocol three times a week. Next week he will do something similar, but with the long-toss from 180 feet. The week after that, he will throw a side session -- meaning approximately Sept. 12 -- for his first time throwing a bullpen since his Spring Training Tommy John surgery.
"I can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Wainwright said.
However, any notion of the right-hander appearing in some sort of competitive environment this year has pretty much been eliminated. There had been some hope, at least on Wainwright's part, that he might be able to appear in a Minor League rehabilitation game if one of the Cardinals affiliates made it well into the playoffs.
That now is off, even if Wainwright is using the possibility of some sort of competition as motivation.
"Realistically the only way to get in a game is if we were to go deep in the playoffs," Wainwright said. "And I think realistically the chances of that happening -- not that we go deep in the playoffs, but the chances of them placing me in a game if we do -- are very, very, very, very, very, very small. But my work is drastically improved with the thought that I'm working for something."
Wainwright will take November and December off from throwing entirely, then report to the club's Jupiter, Fla., complex in January to begin preparing for the 2012 season.