ST. LOUIS — The Cardinals are reporting to Busch Stadium Friday for "spring training 2.0", "summer training" or "summer camp" depending on what you would like to call it.
It's the first time the Cardinals will train in St. Louis for a season in more than 100 years.
Nothing is going to be normal about the 2020 baseball season. From the 60-game schedule, to the DH in the National League and social distancing measures at every step, things are going to be weird this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his 14 years in St. Louis, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright has seen just about everything. But nobody in baseball has seen anything like 2020.
Nobody knows how the season will play out. Things could end up being shut down all over again. But for most players, like Wainwright, it's worth trying to bring baseball back.
"It's (the coronavirus) still a big deal, man. People are still dying every day. So we have to take this seriously. We have to be smart, we have to be safe, and we have to do it right, but we have to try," Wainwright told 5 On Your Side Sports Director Frank Cusumano on Frank's radio show Thursday.
"We have to go out there and try to perform and bring some enjoyment and entertainment into this atmosphere and bring people some smiles. That's what we're here for."
Some have said that with just a 60-game season this year, everything would have an asterisk attached to it, including the World Series. Wainwright isn't buying that.
"What in the world else would I be competing this year for if not? If it didn't matter, if nobody was going to count it, then it's not worth playing the game," Wainwright said. "We want to win a championship for our fans who have been craving baseball, and this great City of St. Louis is ready for some action, and we're ready to play and compete for them. I'll tell you right now, if they put an asterisk next to it, give me all the awards that nobody else wants and all the World Series championship rings that nobody else wants. We'll take it."
The Cardinals officially begin camp on Friday, but Wainwright and the other players have been keeping in shape and throwing during this entire break.
"I think I could go easily five innings. Probably get it up to around 85 pitches if I had to pitch this weekend. Once you're at that number it builds quickly," Wainwright said. "The hardest jump is from like your live BP to like three innings, and then when you get over two or three innings it really adds quickly. Your arm strength builds up really fast and you get used to that repetition."
Wainwright said he'll miss the fans and the simple camaraderie with his teammates that won't be allowed this season. But there is an interesting personal wrinkle to this season.
"It's been interesting kind of the trash talk that goes on in a situation where you can hear everything. Because in a normal situation if you're pitching and the guys is hitting you almost have to yell for the guy to hear you," Wainwright said. "So in this scenario, if they take a close pitch and I'm like 'oooh how did you take that', they can hear it."
Wainwright is back on a one year deal for 2020, but he's not worried about the future right now. Like the rest of baseball, he and the Cardinals are taking 2020 one step at a time.
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