JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright isn't trying to make too big of a deal about his upcoming spring training start.
Sure, it's his first time pitching in a game since he was sidelined in 2010 and missed the entire 2011 season because of elbow surgery.
But after a year of rehab and waiting to get back on the mound, Wainwright knows Friday's start against Minnesota won't be just another day either.
"I'm normally not a butterfly guy. I expect some butterflies," he said Sunday after throwing his final batting practice session in preparation for the appearance. "There have been several real key moments in my career that I had some butterflies. This year when I pitch at Busch Stadium for the first time, there'll probably be some butterflies. We'll have to wait and see."
Wainwright threw around 30 pitches Sunday and said he approached it with the kind of intensity he usually reserves for game days during the regular season.
Wainwright will likely throw a bullpen session before boarding the bus for Friday for the 2 1/2 hour ride to Ft. Myers. But he said he was maximizing the time against hitters.
"I wanted it to be as close to a simulated game as possible," he said. "I knew I walked (Tyler Greene), so I went out and stretched the rest of that inning. Just to simulate what I would do in an inning. I did my normal warmups between innings and tried to think what I would normally think.
"There were a couple of pitches I wouldn't have done during a game. But mostly I was trying to be me out there. This is my last hurdle and my last go of it."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny watched the session and said that it's no secret that the coaching staff has been very deliberate with a guy they expect to again be at the core of the pitching rotation alongside Chris Carpenter.
"He's been the one guy we've been clear about from the beginning that we've got to stay on the program with him," Matheny said. "He's been on track and to stay on track is really important."
Matheny said Wainwright having to ride the bus Friday is just part of that.
"He understands," Matheny said. "From this point forward, it's working towards opening day. And if you get the buzzard luck of it on a trip up north or out west - it's just how it falls."
Interestingly enough, the Ft. Myers trip will bring about another first for Wainwright, who has never been to that facility before.
"Just a drive across the state for a couple of innings," he said. "At this point I could care less where it is."