ATLANTA -- Adam Wainwright won't be going on a rehabilitation assignment just yet, but the right-hander believes the time is coming very soon.
Wainwright felt just fine during and after a 65-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, but his command was not as sharp as he would like it to be. He is expected to throw again on Friday, possibly against hitters, but his next throw will not be in the Minor Leagues. He is recovering from an injury to the pulley that attaches a tendon to a bone in his right middle finger.
On Monday, pitching coach Dave Duncan said that if "everything is as good as it can possibly be" in Wainwright's bullpen session, then the right-hander could go on a rehabilitation assignment. And while nothing was medically wrong with Wainwright's throws, he had little belief that the session put him three days from being ready to pitch competitively.
"My command was just not there yet," Wainwright said. "That's the only frustrating part. My arm strength is good. My hand is a lot better."
Prior to Wainwright's session, meanwhile, manager Tony La Russa expressed irritation over previous reports, including one on MLB.com, that a rehab start for Wainwright was imminent. He argued that stories about Wainwright overstated Duncan's comment, and that the club never had any serious intention of putting Wainwright in a game on Friday.
Wainwright said that he had command issues with both his fastball and his offspeed pitches. However, he said he threw curveballs at very close to game intensity, a significant step given the nature of his injury. His injured finger is most vulnerable when he "snaps" a sharp curveball.
"I threw close to normal [curveballs]," he said. "I didn't snap them as hard as I could. I didn't throw any 0-2 breakers today. I threw some get-me-overs, some double-play curves."
Duncan said after the session that Wainwright's next step remains somewhat undetermined, even leaving open the possibility that Wainwright's next session could come Thursday instead of Friday.
"I'm going to talk to him to see if he thinks that facing some hitters would be ... if he's ready to do that or not," Duncan said. "Whatever he does, it's going to be a step up from today, hopefully. He's thrown the ball right. His location is not what it needs to be for him to be able to go out and pitch competitively. That's for sure. He's in the strike zone, but he doesn't have much command of it."
Wainwright acknowledged that assessment, but hopes he's not far from seeing game action.
"I would think Friday would be one of my last [sessions] before a game, if not the last," he said.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.