Efficient Wainwright in 'good place to start'

JUPITER, Fla. -- Making the first of six scheduled spring outings, Adam Wainwright was so efficient early in Monday's 10-2 win over the Astros that the Cardinals had to send him back to the mound for an extra inning in order for the right-hander to log a sufficient amount of work.

By the end of his scoreless 2 2/3-inning outing, Wainwright had thrown 48 pitches (27 strikes). He estimated that about a quarter of them were changeups, a pitch that he hopes can be more effective for him than it was at times last season.

"I was happy with it. It was a good place to start," Wainwright said. "I was just trying to be efficient out there and make pitches to get ahead in the count early on."

Wainwright said he assumes he'll be given the Opening Day assignment on April 1, though manager Mike Matheny has not promised it to him yet. One thing the Cardinals have decided, though, is that they won't have Wainwright make the maximum number of seven starts this spring.

Instead, the Cardinals will insert extra days of rest into Wainwright's schedule moving forward so that it lines up for him to throw six times. Last year, Wainwright made five Grapefruit League starts.

"Seven sounds like a lot," Wainwright said. "I think six is a better number. I want to save some bullets for the regular season."

Wainwright spent much of last spring trying to regain the arm strength lost while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. On Monday, he described his arm as feeling "completely different" than it was at this point in camp a year ago.

"It feels solid, strong," Wainwright noted. "It feels conditioned."