All right, Adam Wainwright wants to put this story to bed.
The St. Louis Cardinals ace and National League All-Star starter found himself in hot water earlier this month after he implied – jokingly to some, not jokingly to others – that he grooved a pitch to Derek Jeter to lead off the All-Star Game in Minneapolis. Jeter doubled to right field on a pitch in the zone and scored as part of a three-run first inning for the American League.
The AL won, 5-3, to earn home-field advantage in the World Series.
And now, Wainwright just wants to set the record straight.
“You know what?” he said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I’m being real careful about talking about that with everyone because it’s gone away now and I got killed on it for a matter of a whole 10-day period. Everyone in the news world thought I was just the worst person ever. I want to put this real clearly and real quickly so that we can talk about something else, if that’s okay.”
All right, let’s do it.
“I tried to get him out in the strike zone,” Wainwright said. “I was challenging him. I did not want to hit him; I did not want to walk him. So I gave him a pitch to hit in the zone. I didn’t throw it where I wanted to. I tried to throw it down and away. But good hitters hit pitches in the middle of the plate. That’s the way it goes. Like I told a hundred different media outlets, I have no regret on the way I went about things, just the execution of the pitch. That’s all.”
It was a rough outing for Wainwright, a three-time All-Star, but the 32-year-old took it in stride.
“It’s a tremendous honor (to start an All-Star Game),” he said. “Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out like I thought they would and like Mike Matheny hoped they would. But you know what? That’s something I can always say I did. I can look back one day, and it’s something I can be very proud of. The results weren’t great, but hopefully I’ve got a few more All-Star games to pitch in and I can right that ship.”
For now, however, Wainwright is focused squarely on the rest of the regular season. The Cardinals – 56-50 entering play July 31 – trail Milwaukee by 2.5 games in the NL Central and San Francisco and Atlanta by one game in the Wild Card standings.
St. Louis has been without All-Star catcher and clubhouse leader Yadier Molina for several weeks, as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. As a result, St. Louis signed A.J. Pierzynski, 37, who had just been released by Boston.
Pierzynski, who has played for six teams in 17 seasons, has, well, let’s just say a reputation.
“I think we made it clear as a team that when he got here, we were going to give him a clean slate,” Wainwright said. “I think everybody deserves that. Everybody’s situation is different. One thing I know is, if you’ve already written somebody off before they get to your clubhouse, that person’s got no chance. A.J.’s had a very good career and he’s a very tough out. He’s got numerous hits off me, I know that firsthand. He’ll help our offense tremendously.”
“But he’ll also bring some edge to our team,” Wainwright continued. “He plays hard, man. He really does. He plays hard and he wants to win. He’s a proven winner. He’s been a part of winning teams all over the place. We’re not worried about anything that’s happened in the past. What we’re worried about is the time he’s going to be with us. He’s with us right now. We’ll fight for him.”