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Cardinals Game 1 starter Adam Wainwright: World Series opportunity ‘pretty special to me’

10.22.13 at 3:35 pm ET
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Cardinals Game 1 starter Adam Wainwright wasn’t about to disclose any secrets about attacking the Red Sox lineup.

“I can’t tell you that, can I?” he chuckled. “That’s the scouting report.”

He did, however, suggest that the opportunity to pitch in the World Series — after being unable to do so in 2011, when he was sidelined while recovering from Tommy John surgery — represented a special moment for him. He’d pitched in the World Series before, of course, having emerged as the closer on the 2006 Cardinals team that enjoyed a surprise march to a title, but to return to that platform after rehabbing in 2011 and enduring a return in 2012 in which his arm strength fluctuated represents a different sort of accomplishment.

“It’s pretty special to me,” said Wainwright. “I never doubted that I would return, but those thoughts creep in. … My stuff came back, my ability that I knew was there kind of returned. To be able to have some big-time playoff moments this year, it’s been very special, something I’ll never forget.”

One interesting aspect of facing the Red Sox that Wainwright did explore was facing Shane Victorino, who has set a record by getting hit six times in the postseason this year.

“I’ve pitched against Shane many years. I know if he gets on base, he can wreak havoc. He’s very fast. He’s a very good baserunner. So I don’t think anyone in our locker room is intentionally ever going to throw one and hit him on purpose because they know what they can do on the basepaths,” said Wainwright. “I saw a couple of those [HBPs]. They were breaking balls and changeups, too. It’s unintentional sometimes.”

Wainwright, who has faced Victorino 23 times, suggested that there would be a fascinating full-circle moment in the opportunity to face the outfielder — a switch-hitter for most of his career — batting right-handed, given that Wainwright’s experience facing Victorino dates to the outfielder’s first explorations of hitting left-handed.

“It’ll be interesting to see him right-handed. I faced him left-handed quite a bit, and I remember his first game attempting to switch-hit when he was with the Dodgers in Double-A,” said Wainwright. “I played against him way back when. All he could do was slash and run. Next year, he came back and had great power from the left side, even more power, I think, lefty than righty. So it’ll be interesting to see him hitting right-handed.”

Wainwright also expressed his amazement at Red Sox closer Koji Uehara‘s ability to strike out opponents, suggesting that his ability to elicit three-pitch punchouts was cartoonish.

“We’re going to do our best to not let him pitch at the end of the game,” said Wainwright.

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