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'Off the Bat' episode a team effort for Cards

New episode features a focus on chemistry of Wainwright, Wacha and Miller

'Off the Bat' episode a team effort for Cards

NEW YORK -- For those who follow it closely, there's no question the Cardinals' starting rotation is a close-knit group. For anyone who doesn't, tonight's episode of the MTV2 show "Off the Bat" has you covered.

St. Louis starters Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller will be featured in the fourth episode of the new series, airing at 11 p.m. ET. In town for a four-game series against the Mets, they all stopped by the MLB Fan Cave this week to participate in the making of the show.

During this episode, the three pitchers agree to play a game to see just how well they know one another -- though, as might be expected, the game quickly takes on a life of its own, thanks to its contestants.

"We're around each other more than anyone else in our lives," Miller said. "It's every day for 162 games and all the travel days and Spring Training and hopefully into October -- so it's important to not just get along with these guys, but to really have that feeling of being a family. And we've definitely got that, especially within our starting five."

Tonight's episode also provides a glimpse into the off-field lives of Wainwright, Wacha and Miller. For instance, it may shed light on which one of the three is most likely to dance his way through the clubhouse, who is most likely to call reality TV his guilty pleasure and who has the best pickup lines.

Fair warning: The answers to some of those questions are probably not what you might expect.

"We've got something pretty rare, we really do," Miller said. "And it's not just us three or just our starting five, but our whole clubhouse. We're all best friends, and everyone gets along great. We make for a pretty great family, and that makes a bigger difference than some people might think."

In the eyes of the 23-year-old Miller and 22-year-old Wacha, the man most responsible for shaping the clubhouse that way is Wainwright. Following the retirement of co-ace Chris Carpenter this past offseason, Wainwright has assumed the leadership role not just for the rotation, but the Cardinals as a whole.

Though Wainwright calls it a natural process, his teammates -- though they don't cut him any slack during tonight's episode -- give him a lot more credit for the work he does, on and off the field.

"With so many young guys on our staff, it's really important for us to have that veteran leadership. and Waino does a great job with it," Wacha said. "He not only leads by example out on the mound, but even off of it he's a big part of making sure everyone in our clubhouse blends together, regardless if they're veteran guys or rookies or whatever. He's definitely the rock for us."

Yet there he is in tonight's "Off the Bat" episode, matching the Cardinals' young guns joke-for-joke and insult-for-insult.

"We have a great mix of guys, old and young," Wainwright said. "It's a situation where the young guys are learning from the older guys, the old guys are out there just doing their thing, and in the end, we're all really learning from each other and having a lot of fun doing it. That's the way it should be."

For this week's "Off the Bat" episode at least, that's the way it was. Despite taking a train into New York City following Sunday afternoon's series finale in Washington, D.C., Wainwright, Wacha and Miller jumped at the opportunity to tour the Fan Cave on Monday morning before stepping in front of the cameras.

Wainwright and Wacha will pitch against the Mets on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, with the "Off the Bat" episode airing on MTV2 the same night as Wainwright's outing. Miller, who took a no-decision in that Sunday afternoon contest, isn't scheduled to pitch at citi Field.

Still, Miller will be there supporting Wainwright and Wacha -- and the rest of his teammates -- just as they will be doing for him when he takes the mound again Friday against the Pirates. For the time being, all he can do is hope his MTV2 debut tonight goes over well with those teammates.

"It was a lot of fun," Miller said of his involvement with this week's episode. "We don't always have the chance to get out and do something like this during the season, especially in the middle of a road trip. And to share it with these guys just made it all the more fun, and it should be interesting to see how it turns out."

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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