Bringing up that Adam Wainwright has a sub-1.00 ERA with about two weeks left in Spring Training draws an instant reaction from the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander–that of covering his ears and making a loud noise to block out the topic.
“Nothing,” stated Wainwright. “Nothing. I just have to keep going. Just keep making pitches and keep going out there and executing one pitch after another and then we’ll see what happens during the season.”
While his 0.94 ERA is a number he doesn’t want to talk about, there is a number that Wainwright is very proud of–43,000. That’s the number of water bottles that his charity, Big League Impact, has been able to help provide in recent hurricane relief efforts for Puerto Rico through their March Bracket Challenge.
“The water facilities down there, the water that they have–it’s not good,” explained Wainwright. “It’s really bad. Some people are drinking Cokes and they’re drinking whatever they can drink. They need water is what they need. There had been a water bottle facility down there that closed down, they opened it back up for this. So, we’re empowering and giving jobs there in Puerto Rico, but also supplying clean water.”
To help with this project, Big League Impact teamed with Food for the Hungry, which is lead by Roberto Clemente Jr. The fundraising efforts for the March Bracket Challenge began just a few days before the tournament got underway.
“I think we finished with 43,015 or 43,014 water bottles passed out over there from that one facility,” smiled Wainwright. “Not a bad start for sure from a couple days of fundraising.”
The project is one of many that Big League Impact works on throughout the year as Wainwright has put together fantasy football leagues, karaoke contests, and more in efforts to benefit and help make a difference for those less fortunate. Along the way, there has been a growing group of players–on the St. Louis Cardinals and throughout MLB that have followed suit.
“Yeah, it’s cool man,” admits Wainwright. “We did a little dinner over at the house the other day and invited a bunch of people from the four different teams that are down here and kind of shared the vision of what we’re trying to accomplish and some things if they wanted to get involved they could do. We left that night and some young guys, that really haven’t even struck it big yet, haven’t come in to their own, they said ‘Man, when I get a chance this is going to be a big deal for me and I can’t wait to help. Help other people with my performance.’ That’s worth it in itself right there for me–to know that the youth of the game catches the vision and says man, I can make a difference too.”
As for the pitching this spring, Wainwright concedes he’s “feeling good”. He has allowed the one earned run in three starts and nine hits in 10.2 innings with 10 strikeouts and six walks.
“I am having fun experimenting with different things and I’m making pitches,” said Wainwright. “I’m really just trying to focus on making one pitch at a time. Aside from all the other things I’m doing, that focus level is where it needs to be. That’s where I need to keep it.”
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com