On April 25th devastating news broke that Cardinals Ace Adam Wainwright tore his Achilles in a freak accident while batting against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was the first major blow to the Cardinals this season who have seen their fair share of injuries from major players. Wainwright was expected to miss the rest of the season due to the injury, in which he received surgery on to repair; but missing the entire season doesn’t seem in the books according to Wainwright. In a recent interview, Wainwright states that he is hoping to be back with the club come in September or October for the playoffs. Now this may seem exciting news for some, but it leaves me feeling worried about his future.
Several web pages and other sports articles of players with the same injury suggest that a torn Achilles needs to have a full 12 months to repair, no matter who you are or what sport you are in. Although Wainwright is receiving proper treatment daily through the Cardinals staff and may be progressing faster than normal because of his resources, I still wouldn’t want him to come back from serious injury so soon. He is 33 years old. While 33 does not seem old to us, in baseball, 33 years old is more on the aging side. I’m sure Wainwright is itching to get back on the mound, but in the case of playing for the team with the best record in Major League Baseball and 6 games up, should we rush it?
Now I know there is plenty of season left and anything can happen, but at this point I think bringing Wainwright back in September and October would be foolish. The Cardinals continue to have one of the best rotations in the game even without him, and while I think that him coming back only makes us better, I can’t help but think about his future career. At 23 games above .500, I don’t see the Cardinals falling out of contention, even with solid Cubs and Pirates teams that will surely give the Cardinals a run for their money down the stretch. I think the rotation that we have already has plenty of playoff experience that I wouldn’t see it as a problem if Wainwright waited until the following season to come back.
Seeing Wainwright come in next season fully recovered with rest in an offseason seems more logical than to even take the slightest chance of him risking further injury this season. The Cardinals have him locked up until the 2019 season after signing a 5 year extension in 2013 that didn’t start up until the 2014 season. The Cardinals are set to be successful for many years to come and we all expect Adam Wainwright to be the leader of the pitching squad. We would hate it if even the slightest bit of ill health risked another 2-3 years play on Wainwright, kind of like the nerve and shoulder issues that plagued Chris Carpenter and forced him on the shelf for 2 years before retiring.
Another player that has gone through the same type of injury is Ryan Howard of the Phillies. Howard suffered his torn Achilles against the Cardinals in 2011 playoffs in the final out of the NLDS and has never been the same player since the injury. He is always limping and not running to his full abilities, nursing his leg every game. Now for a pitcher who uses more of his legs in any given day than a position player, Wainwright’s injury could see steep repercussions for a long time if not fully recovered.
Now it just doesn’t seem right going into the playoffs without Wainwright there for a Game 1 and 5 start, but in this case I have to say wait for next year. We need him to be healthy for the future and not necessarily for September and October. As a die-hard Cardinal fan who has seen Wainwright from the beginning, seeing him fast pace himself to a playoff opportunity this year could lead to trouble in the future for our staff ace and the Cardinals Organization. A torn Achilles injury could just be that injury for Wainwright that causes trouble for the rest of his career, so taking his time and being patient with it will lead to a longer tenured ace for the St. Louis Cardinals.