JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - Adam Wainwright reported to the St. Louis Cardinals' spring training for elbow rehab less than three weeks after undergoing reconstructive surgery.
Before undergoing exercises Wednesday designed to improve range of motion, the 20-game winner was optimistic that he'll be ready to go next spring. Wainwright plans on being with the team throughout the season.
"I should be better than new," Wainwright said. "Think about it. You get a year off to strengthen your body in every way, you get a year to think about the things you could have done differently, and you've got an all-new ligament in your arm."
Wainwright said the rotation will be fine without him. Kyle McClellan has been impressive in three spring starts and is likely to take Wainwright's spot.
"McClellan, he has the pitches to do it and he's got the swagger to do it, too," Wainwright said. "You've got to have both."
Wainwright strained the elbow last fall and missed his final start, and said that may have been a warning signal. He speculated that may have blown out the elbow last fall if the Cardinals made the postseason and he had kept pitching.
"It probably would have popped," Wainwright said. "And I would have been fine with that."
Four members of the rotation have undergone elbow reconstruction. The exception is Kyle Lohse, who had forearm surgery last May.
Wainwright said he's lost 6 to 7 pounds since surgery on Feb. 28 due to forced inactivity, and said he won't be able to resume conditioning for another two weeks.
"You lose your appetite, your muscles atrophy," Wainwright said. "It's not depressing, but I look in the mirror and it's like 'Who is this person?"'