Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made the announcement on Wednesday that Wainwright will start on Friday against the Braves. Wainwright threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and pronounced himself fully ready to take on Major League hitters. After Wainwright met with La Russa, the decision was made to get him going in the rotation.
The Cards will go with a piggyback approach on Friday, as Wainwright gradually builds toward a normal pitch count and starter's stamina following his right middle finger sprain. Joel Pineiro will be on call to pick up Wainwright.
With right-hander Chris Carpenter (out with a shoulder strain) working his way back at a cautious pace, Wainwright's role as a starter isn't etched in stone. If Carpenter eventually returns to the rotation, Wainwright could be asked to work in late relief, to which he said he'd do what's necessary to make any adjustment that will best serve the club.
"You'd like to commit to one of them [starting or relieving] in your head as soon as possible," Wainwright said.
The immediate challenge will be to give the Cardinals a solid start in the opener of the Atlanta series.
After some conversations with La Russa, Wainwright has made clear he understands the big picture. A healthy Carpenter in the rotation at some point might mean Wainwright's greatest value in the final month or so could be as a closer.
"[La Russa] has let me know this is a one-start-at a-time thing right now," Wainwright said.
"Friday is all I can really think about. I'm getting ready to start on Friday and then we'll go from there. I expect to go out and compete and do very well. I'm snapping the ball as hard or harder than I have all year."
Wainwright will be making his 14th start, and his first since June 7.
"There has been no definite determination of what Adam's role is, except that he's due to pitch Friday," La Russa said. "We'll get him back out there in a Major League situation, give him some work and evaluate where he is. Get him ready to go, and then see where he fits in the best."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.