Cards Winter Warm-Up: In Their Words, 1/16/17

Press interviews from the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up on Monday, January 16.

Following are selected interviews held during the finale of the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up on Monday, January 16, 2017. One that will not be included is Matt Carpenter, who had to cancel out of the event due to travel problems.

Link to Winter Warm-Up Day 1 summaries and audio
Link to Winter Warm-Up Day 1 photos

Mike Leake (5:24)

Leake was first asked about his winter, saying that each offseason is different between attending weddings and traveling. He has just now gotten back into baseball movements. His goals remain simple: learn and get better.

On his increase in strikeouts later in the season, Leake attributed it to being more cognizant of missing bats when he got two strikes on hitters. The sinkerball right-hander sees a good defense behind him being vital for his style of pitching as a groundball specialist. Leake also thinks Kolten Wong only helps the infield defense with his “lateral movement and how quick he is with his hands.”

The California native feels healthy, likes the improvements of the outfield defense, and is prepared for spring training. He mentioned that he is still gaining weight back from his late-season bout with the shingles, weighing 170 pounds now against his ideal of 190.

Mike Matheny (25:10)

The manager said he backed off his players in the winter as they need time to unplug. Winter Warm-Up considered start of new year. Want to talk to players, understand what they are thinking.

On the running game, folks would be shocked at number of green lights players had in past. Need to create right mindset and drive in players.

Matheny made it very clear that catcher Yadier Molina would continue to play. His job description is to win games and he will continue to put best players in lineup. He does not buy that he should back off on Molina. Regarding Molina not getting the 2016 Gold Glove, “to me, that’s his award,” the manager said. It is up to staff and pitchers to better manage the running game. Running game had been shut down so long that maybe they were not as diligent as they could have been. Molina was better than the numbers.

On Michael Wacha, waiting to see if he can maintain shoulder strength to get on top of ball. Winter reports are good. Wainwright looks great, strong. Like Molina, has high self-expectations.

Still putting together spring plans. It is “not a time to back off”. Efficiency will be important, as will backing off some things they did before.

Bill DeWitt Jr. and Bill DeWitt III (24:16)

The team’s chairman did most of the talking, with his son, the team president, handing questions near the end on hockey and MLS subjects.

Jr. commended the GM for doing a good job against the goals he set for the off-season. He contrasted the Cardinals approach with some teams who go all out and use up resources. DeWitt noted his team uses resources above MLB payroll, citing the example of the international market, where he says the Cardinals will continue to be aggressive.

On the hacking penalty, he hopes it will be resolved by the end of January-Early February. The Cards’ internal investigation is complete – nothing else planned.

New CBA is a fair agreement. Good for MLB was international cap and competitive balance picks. Players got higher threshold on team salaries. Designated hitter never came up among owners. Sees no big desire to change.

Surprised team has two “file to go” arbitration cases, but does not see the process as acrimonious.

On the Cubs, DeWitt Jr. commended them for making good picks and opportunistic trades to build a strong nucleus. Also noted that each year is different and it is hard to repeat. Sees rivalry as friendly and competitive. Understands fans are intense about beating Cubs and winning – period. That interest is why home opener is national TV game.

Michael Wacha (6:44)

After a shoulder injury cost him the final two months of 2016, Wacha considers himself and his right arm healthy for the new season in 2017. His offseason conditioning includes a lot of strengthening in the shoulder as well as the lat, creating needed mobility and flexibility in his arm. Wacha is happy with the results and hopes to intensify before spring training starts.

The tall and lanky right-hander felt the injury was causing a lot of weakness and stress in the shoulder due to being overworked. His focus was, “strengthening up that muscle, getting it firing, and getting it working.” (He pointed to a muscle behind his neck.)

Wacha is preparing himself as a starter and hopes to be back in the rotation. As far as his injury status right now, he is not yet throwing off a mound, but has progressed to long toss and will throw bullpens before spring.

He plans to attend his arbitration hearing, but said all financial matters are in his agent’s hands.

Lance Lynn (3:26)

Coming off Tommy John surgery in November of 2015 and with plenty of rest, Lynn has been on a routine throwing program since before Christmas time. When asked if he’s ready to start spring training the righty quipped, “If you look at I had surgery in 2015 and now it’s 2017, so I’m ready to go.”

Lynn, who has yet to start throwing bullpens, is waiting until he gets to Florida and expects to be there next week. As far as his repertoire, the fastball-predominant hurler will stick with his same approach and “be who I am.”

On what he wants to accomplish in 2017, Lynn has his sights set on winning a World Series title. Going into his walk year, he is not worried about contract negotiations, instead focusing on the process at hand.

Adam Wainwright (21:45)

In perhaps the most eventful and attended interview, Wainwright discussed a number of things, including his Karaoke Fundraiser later on Monday evening before touching on the upcoming baseball season for the Cardinals. The leader of the team continues to lead and is excited about the potential of the rotation.

Wainwright also talked about the inability to strengthen his lower body for last season which would tend to cause him to fall off the mound and make his arm drag. Thus, his fastball command was drastically hindered by these mechanical inconsistencies. The right-hander made it clear that was in the past and he has made the necessary adjustments to turn the page for 2017.

Like other pitchers on the staff, Wainwright is prepared to make a run for the World Series title and is excited for what’s to come in 2017. He jokingly noted that he hopes teammate Carlos Martinez places second in the Cy Young Award voting.

Check back at The Cardinal Nation for more Winter Warm-Up content throughout the weekend and in the days that follow. Selected photos of all the above individuals and more are now loaded at TheCardinalNationblog.com, so check them out, too.

Brian Walton and Derek Shore of The Cardinal Nation collaborated on this article.

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