Wainwright to begin rehabilitation early

Wainwright to begin rehab early

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals tipped their hand regarding their plans for rehabbing right-hander Adam Wainwright on Wednesday, announcing that Wainwright will begin his Minor League rehabilitation assignment a day earlier than expected.

Wainwright, who faced hitters in a simulated game on Tuesday, will pitch for Triple-A Memphis on Friday, rather than Saturday as originally announced. From there, he will pitch approximately every two or three days, an indication that there is a good chance he will be used in relief when he returns to active duty. Wainwright has been sidelined since June due to an injury to the middle finger on his right hand.

"We're going to limit his pitch count and then have him go more on an every-couple-of-days schedule from there," general manager John Mozeliak said on Wednesday.

"Not drawing any conclusions, but [using Wainwright in relief] is still on the table. Clearly, we think getting him back in the bullpen sooner, rather than later as a starter, could address some immediate needs."

Still, Mozeliak cautioned against the logical leap that Wainwright is the answer to the club's ninth-inning woes.

"As far as being put in as the closer," the GM said, "that's not the case right away."

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