JUPITER, Fla. -- Still bothered by a sore throat following a recent bout of strep throat, Adam Wainwright stayed on schedule to pitch the season opener by throwing 3 1/3 innings in Tuesday's 9-8 loss to the Mets.
Admittedly achy but no longer dealing with the fever that led the Cardinals to send him home early in recent days, Wainwright threw 52 pitches in his second of what will be five spring starts.
"I wanted to stay on my schedule because I'm lined up [for Opening Day]," Wainwright said, noting that the only reason the illness would have kept him off the mound would have been if the club believed he was contagious. "I think it's important for me to make my starts so I'm ready for Opening Day. Four [starts] is probably enough. Five is for sure enough."
Confident that his trademark curveball will be sharp by the time he faces the Reds on March 31, Wainwright has spent much of his time this spring working on other pitches. He fell behind Josh Satin in the second inning with his curveball and eventually served up a homer, the only run he allowed.
Though he ended his outing by walking Satin on another curveball way outside the strike zone, he knows the feel of the pitch will come over his final three starts.
"I've honed in so much on my sinker, fastball, changeup, cutter combo because the other one, I feel like that's my strength," he said. "I want to keep it a strength, but I need to get the other ones to where that is. I've been working hard on my other stuff. I have plenty of time to get my breaking ball in there and start throwing that for strikes."
The walk to Satin was the first one Wainwright has issued all spring. He plans to enter the season with the same goal he had last season -- making more starts than he issues walks. He just missed the achievement in 2013, as he started 34 games and walked 35 batters in 241 2/3 innings.
The 35 walks were the fewest he has given up in any full season as a starter.
"I think it's so important," he said. "When I'm attacking hitters, I'm at my best. When I put them on the defensive early on, that's what I want to do."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less