MESA, Ariz. – Spring Training games haven’t even started yet, and the Cubs are already gaining in the National League Central race – although nobody at Fitch Park was celebrating about it.
“It’s a little different now,” Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said of the division’s look after the St. Louis Cardinals’ appeared to lose All-Star starter Adam Wainwright for the season because an elbow injury.
“This guy won 40 games over the last two years. They’re a different team without him,” Ramirez added. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the National League. They’re your rivals, but you don’t want to see that happen to anybody.”
Wainwright is 64-34 the past four years as a starter – including 39 wins the last two – with a career 2.97 ERA.
“It makes me sick,” said Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins, who spent 29 seasons with the Cardinals’ organization before the Cubs hired him away in 2008. “I know what the rehab is for one of those [Tommy John] surgeries, and it just kills me when anybody has that. … That’s a pretty good blow for the Cardinals right now. That’s 18 to 20 wins. That’s hard to replace.”
Said Cubs manager Mike Quade: “You want to win and compete and all the rest of it, but you don’t like to see anybody get hurt. I feel bad for him. … That’s a damn shame.”