A couple of weeks ago, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright posted a video to his Twitter account which allowed a peak into his living room as he danced and sang songs with his daughters.
“I kind of like making a fool out of myself,” Wainwright laughed. “I feel like I’m pretty good at it. If you’re not especially good at anything, but you’re willing to do it in front of people and it makes people laugh, then why not do it?”
Or maybe THIS is what goes on…. pic.twitter.com/IwjHbNofWm
— Adam Wainwright (@UncleCharlie50) December 13, 2018
Wainwright will be taking his musical talents from the living room to the actual stage in a couple of weeks as his Big League Impact Foundation once again hosts their annual Sing-Off on January 18th from 6-10pm at Dave and Busters in Earth City. Proceeds of the event will go to Crisis Aid to help 100 families in need in St. Louis.
“They do tons of things around the world, not just in St. Louis,” Wainwright said. “They feed kids in Ethiopia and families in Ethiopia that are on the verge of death. We’ve partnered with them many times through our fantasy football challenges to do that. This year, Crisis Aid has targeted 100 families that are in just dire need of help and we’re going to sing for them this year. With the great help of Crisis Aid locating those families in need and the generous donors who show up and help us to put on a great event and to also Dave and Busters we thank you so much. Thanks to the Cardinals for helping us promote also.”
In his living room, Wainwright sang Katy Perry with his daughters. He had a special announcement about what he will be singing at the Sing-Off.
“I will be putting a poll on Twitter either day or tomorrow with a couple of song choices and the Twitter users are going to get to pick on what I’m singing,” Wainwright (@UncleCharlie50) shared. “I’ve got to sing a song in front of everybody up on stage, so they get to pick what I’m singing. Twitter users, please be gentle. Please, be friendly.”
To date, Big League Impact has raised more than $3 million and helped have a positive impact on more than 648,000 people around the world.
Feeding and clean water programs have been a centerpiece of the efforts, but building baseball fields and community centers have also had a great affect in the Dominican.
“I didn’t really understand these community centers, the importance of it,” Wainwright said. “It served as a preschool, they found out that a kid is like 60 or 70% more likely to graduate high school if they go to preschool first to sort of prep them for regular school. That serves as their pharmacy. It serves as classes for adults in the afternoon and meetings for the community when they need to have a roof over their head and enough space to get together and talk about what they need. I was just blown away by some of things that Food for the Hungry and Big League Impact have been able to partner and do.”
Big League Impact Founder @UncleCharlie50 christened @DreamWeava7 and @mrsdreamweava Field in Hoyo Oscuro, DR yesterday. A year ago this field was a dream. Thanks to @koutpoverty seven new fields will be built in the DR!@MLBPAA pic.twitter.com/3WKnjkGxdq
— Big League Impact (@BigLeagueImpact) December 6, 2018
Wainwright was actually in the Dominican on a field that Luke Weaver helped build with his strikeout campaign when he found his teammate had been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I’m going to miss Luke,” Wainwright said. “I’m going to miss Carson (Kelly) too. Luke and I got extremely close over the last couple years and he’s like a little brother to me. Or maybe even like a little son, I don’t know. I can’t decide which, but little whichever one. But really, really also very grateful that we have Paul Goldschmidt on our team.”
WAINO ON GOLDY
“I’ve spent some time with Paul over the years, very good guy,” Wainwright said. “I think there couldn’t be a more perfect fit than Paul Goldschmidt becoming a Cardinal. His bat is going to fit perfectly in our lineup and I think his personality is going to fit perfectly in our clubhouse. It’s going to be a great fit.”
Goldschmidt also brings with him three Rawlings Gold Glove awards at first base.
“That’s an often forgotten talent of a great hitter like Paul,” Wainwright said. “When we had Albert (Pujols) on the team, he was winning Gold Gloves at first base also. The ability to turn a double play and to field a ball clean and to get that right side of the infield just completely taken care of–we know Kolten Wong’s going to field. And Matt (Carpenter) and Jose (Martinez) did a good job at first, but a Gold Glove caliber first baseman is a big deal. A guy who can throw to all the bases like he can–and you know what else he does to that’s really good? He can steal bases.
“He’s a super smart baserunner. You don’t think of Paul being a blazer. You don’t think of him of being out there like Dexter (Fowler) and some of the guys that we’ve seen are very, very fast. But I think he is faster than we know and I think he’s very smart about picking and choosing his times and taking that extra base. He’s a great baserunner too–takes that first to third as good as anybody I’ve seen and that is a big thing for a lineup.”
One comparison that has been made of Goldschmidt’s baserunning is that it is similar to Scott Rolen.
“Perfect analogy,” Wainwright agreed. “Scott was great at that also. You know what it is? It’s instincts. There’s things you can teach about baseball, there’s fundamentals you can teach, there’s ways to improve. You cannot teach instincts. A guy can look out in the outfield and know that he knows that he knows that he knows he’s going to make it safely into third by one step. That is a huge thing and you can’t teach that. That’s something you’ve got inside of you and I think Paul and Scott had that perfectly.”
WAINO ON 2019
Besides what Goldschmidt will bring to the Cardinals in 2019, Wainwright is also excited about what his own contributions could be.
“Just feeling good again,” he said. “I’ve been able to go out there and lift weights and feel strong and not feel vulnerable. Doing pre-hab instead of rehab. Just make sure everything stays where it needs to be and stay healthy. That’s the key at this point in my career at this point, if I can go out there and be healthy, I’m going to be fine. I’m going to be good. I just can’t go out there at 60 or 70% or lower, like I’ve been trying to do. Right now, I’m at 100% and I’m just going to embrace that, have fun, and we’ll see what happens.”
Last year at this time, Wainwright was “full of piss and vinegar” and motivated to comeback and prove all the naysayers wrong. This season, the motivation is different–and so is his physical state.
“I was about 20 pounds lighter than I am right now because I had so much inflammation in my body that we had to get out of me that I went on a no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, no processed food diet the entire off-season and lost 30 pounds. My body felt good. My arm wasn’t 100%, but my body felt great. I was able to move around better. My back felt better, my knees felt better. But I wasn’t able to lift upper-body the way I wanted to. I wasn’t able to get under any heavy weight because my elbow couldn’t support it.”
This off-season, Wainwright is able to once again lift heavier and his weight has climbed back into the 230s after reaching a low of 213 pounds before last season. By comparison, he weighed around 245lbs in 2013-14.
“Felt just as strong as a bull. So when I’m 245 and then all of a sudden I’m 213, that is significant when you’re talking about power going towards home plate as a pitcher. Honestly, I probably had a little more fat on me than I needed to on me. I think my happy zone is somewhere in the 230s. That’s where I’m at right now, we’re going to keep it there and we’ll see.”
The adjustment Wainwright made to his arm slot and release point during last season will stay in place for 2019. Not only did it prevent agitating his elbow, but as it turns out is a return to his natural form.
“When I was in middle school and first year of high school or so, the way I’m throwing right now is the way I used to throw,” Wainwright explained. “I started playing quarterback in football at the high school level and when I did that, my arm swing shortened up dramatically. I don’t know if that hurt me or helped me because it worked out pretty well for my career in baseball. It helped me hide the ball a little bit better probably, so I don’t look back at that and regret it but the arm swing I’m throwing with now is a more natural arm swing for me that I had when I was growing up. My brother pointed out, ‘that’s the arm swing you used to have before you started playing quarterback’ and I said I know. I knew there was a reason that as soon as I started doing it, it felt natural. What you saw me pitching with my arm swing at the end of the year–it doesn’t look that different. It’s very similar, it’s just a little bit longer in the back and that helps me dramatically so I’m going to keep doing that.”
The St. Louis Cardinals have made it clear that Wainwright, like the majority of their pitchers, will come to Spring Training as a starter. His contract has incentives built in not only for being part of the rotation, but also for having a role in the bullpen. And Wainwright is in the unique position of having dominated as a starter but also having closed out a World Series. At this point, what is his approach headed into the season?
“Going into Spring Training, I’ll be a starter,” Wainwright said. “As Mo said, you can always back off your innings, but to build up to be ready for a start you can’t go from throwing one inning to six innings in a day or two. You need almost a month to do that. So that’s what I’m going to come into Spring Training and do. Honestly, I always feel like if I’m out there healthy, the best way for me to help that team is to go longer innings. Starting pitching is a way that I–let’s face it. I’ve done both. I’ve had a great time doing both, but at the end of the day I have always been a starter. I love starting. Plus, I’ve got to get a few more starts under my belt with Yadier Molina so we can pass Tom Glavine and Javy Lopez.”
The Atlanta duo started as battery mates 248 times in their career. Wainwright and Molina have been together 243 starts. Recently Molina left the door open for playing after his current contract runs out in 2020.
“You never want to be the guy that retires six times,” Wainwright continued. “To say I’m done after this year and then all of a sudden you sign a two year or three year extension. Or you sign a one year and then you say you’re done and then you sign another extension–no one likes hearing that. Then your word doesn’t mean anything.
“Yadi’s smart. If he’s feeling good and he still wants to play then he should play. And if his family still wants him to do it, then that’s great. There’s multiple things when you get to Yadi and I’s age when you have a family, it’s not just all about you anymore. We’ve realized that. I keep asking my daughters, the same way Yadi’s asking his family probably, ‘hey, you all want me to still play? You still good with me toting you around to three different cities and changing friends and this and that?’ I think I’ve raised a couple of vagabonds baseball-wise.”
The Wainwright “vagabonds” will certainly be in Spring Training and it wouldn’t be a surprise with their love of music if they’re also on-hand to cheer Adam along for the Sing-Off on January 18th.
photo credit: Big League Impact, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports