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PostCards: Mike Matheny’s World Series Workout Day Press Conference

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Q. Can you think of that moment earlier this year when it was clear to you that the sharp, healthy Adam Wainwright was back, and what has his stability meant?
Oct 22, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright throws in the outfield during practice the day before game one of the 2013 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Image Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
MIKE MATHENY: I think the point was Spring Training, and that really falls in line with the typical process for that rehab for that surgery. We threw him into a situation last year where he was much better than anybody anticipated and was able to throw more than what many people thought he would. But he was just a lot of times just trying to fight his way through it, even last year in the postseason. This year he showed up a little more crisp, a little more life on the ball, and that breaking ball had a completely different look to it than what it did last year.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise. It takes time when you have that radical surgery to be able to get back to normal. And he has been very, very impressive to watch, Cy Young‑caliber season. Had a couple of rough starts in the middle. But consistent as you could possibly be. Now that he’s gone, I can talk nice about him. I’ll tell you, there couldn’t be a better ace for a club. The combination of he and a Chris Carpenter, who is still so valuable for us. When you start talking about all the young talent that we bring in the club, if you don’t have a couple of guys standing at the top telling them and showing them how it’s supposed to be done, you’re set up for failure.

Hopefully these young guys, we’ve told them a lot, and I think they do get it, they should be grateful that they have the example of Adam Wainwright to lead this club.

Q. With nine years since the ’04 World Series, what, if anything, stands out to you about that? Obviously the games weren’t very competitive. But you did have a great season. What do you remember most about those four games?

MIKE MATHENY: I don’t remember them not being competitive. But I do remember we had a very tough series against Houston, and went to Game 7 with a very good club. And it was a knock‑down, drag‑out fight. It was pretty much a whirlwind by the time we ended there and got here to Boston. And next thing you know, we’re down two games and didn’t even know what happened. And that was a team that didn’t happen to very often. It was a very good team that walked on the field expecting to win. And next thing you know we ran into a buzz saw. You look at what that ’04 Boston team did just to get there. It was an incredible run to get through the Yankees at the end, and we just couldn’t stop them.

It was a lesson learned, not that you our team at that point was half‑stepping or we weren’t prepared, but we just hadn’t been hit like that all season long. So it was a little bit of a shocker.

What that translates into now, a lot like how we talked about last year standing in San Francisco, Game 7 and watching those guys celebrate, realizing how quickly it can get away from you. I think that’s the message we have again this year, is just the urgency, first pitch. This is a team that’s going to fight us the whole way, too, so I expect a good heavyweight bout.