Though it was expected that Luke Weaver would be part of the St. Louis Cardinals rotation this year, the young right-hander refused to take for granted that he would enjoy the convertible ride around the warning track at Busch Stadium today.
“Yeah, obviously that wasn’t set in stone at the time but now that it is, it’s an amazing feeling,” smiled Weaver. “On the drive over here, me and my wife were talking and she asked me if I was excited. Of course, I’m excited but I’m not showing it because I’ve got to be in the moment type of guy to really understand what it feels like. She was super excited, so I think it expands more than just the players but I think also the families and people outside watching.”
“It’s gotta be up there—besides making the debut, this has got to be a close second career-wise,” responded Weaver. “It’s not just given to you. You have to earn being on that Opening Day roster and put in your work. To be celebrated in front of all the fans that are there for 162 and to start it off in a great fashion is just a cool experience.”
While this will be the first Opening Day experience for Weaver, it marks the fifth time that Adam Wainwright takes the ball to start the home schedule for the Cardinals.
“That’s such a cool moment for him and it couldn’t have worked out better,” said Weaver. “He deserves it. I think it’s going to be every bit of–exciting and just a speechless moment for him, even though he’s got a job to do today, I know in the back of his head, he’ll be really appreciative of it.”
Wainwright will be throwing in the bullpen to warm-up as his teammates are introduced and with the uncertainty of his future after this year, does he allow himself to enjoy the emotions of the day or will he need to keep that door closed until after the game?
“No, he’s a guy that’s done this long enough to I think not completely disregard everything going on around him,” said Mike Matheny. “He’s talked about that before too, even in the post season when we let him talk to the young players, don’t deny yourself the pleasure of seeing what’s going around you–appreciating it, respecting it, but then being able to put that aside when it comes down to executing what you need to do, which is each pitch. On the big stage, I don’t know if we have many that have done it as well as Adam has and today is another big stage for him.”
Officially activated from the disabled list before today’s game, Wainwright was 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 10.1 innings thrown in his three spring starts.
“We knew early on, if we had him right, we were wanting to want him pitch,” said Matheny. “He’s a guy that leads this staff. The way he goes about his business, we like the way he competed this spring, the way he was throwing the ball, anxious to get him out there and unfortunately the hamstring just slowed him up a bit.”
WONG NOT STARTING
–Rookie Yairo Munoz gets the start at third base this evening with Matt Carpenter sliding over to second base and Kolten Wong on the bench.
“Left-handed starter against us, gives us a little more opportunity to get a right-handed bat in,” explained Matheny. “Yairo’s already seen that we have faith in him, putting him out in there in some big situations to make plays defensively. It’ll be good to get a few more at-bats for him to see what we’ve got.”
Wong recorded his first hit of the season in the series finale against Milwaukee and is batting .067 (1-15).
“It was good to see Kolten get on the board yesterday, too,” continued Matheny. “Excited to get him going in a positive direction. Each guy’s going to get their opportunity to make the most of it.”
— Brian Stull (@StullySTL) April 5, 2018
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com