MILWAUKEE -- Adam Wainwright is poised to make his first regular-season start in 562 days when he takes the mound Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee.
The anticipation for Wainwright's return is palpable, even though Wainwright has tried to downplay the significance all spring.
"It really is a big deal," general manager John Mozeliak said. "I'm probably going to have a few butterflies before that game even starts, just knowing how hard he's worked to get to where he is. He's a tremendous talent, and now that he's back to where he is, I think tomorrow is just going to be a taste of what he's capable of doing as he moves forward."
While Saturday will mark the end of Wainwright's recovery from Tommy John surgery, it also marks the beginning of a season that contains some unknowns. Manager Mike Matheny reiterated on Friday that he intends to treat Wainwright as "just another pitcher." Truth is, Wainwright's not.
Both Mozeliak and Matheny disputed any notion that the club might limit Wainwright's innings early in the season so the right-hander would be assured of pitching into October. The Cardinals will be cautious, though, and decisions on how long to let Wainwright stay on the mound will largely be determined by how strenuous his innings are in any given start.
The expectation is that the Cardinals will keep Wainwright under the 200-inning threshold this season, though no firm number has been set.
"I think it's more reading him than going off a number," Matheny said. "I think he wants us to view him as another one of our five starters. It's getting him out there and seeing how it goes as opposed to having any preconceived ideas."
Komatsu's first hit a 'special moment'
MILWAUKEE -- As Erik Komatsu was wrapping up a series of postgame interviews with the media, manager Mike Matheny exited his office, lineup card in hand, and slowly made his way to the opposite end of the visitors' clubhouse. There, Matheny delivered Komatsu the keepsake.
Komatsu left Miller Park on Friday with both the lineup card, which he had his teammates sign, and the memory of his first Major League hit. He hoped to find the ball, too, though he had yet to track that down in the minutes after the Cardinals' 11-5 win over Milwaukee.
Pinch-hitting for Carlos Beltran with one out in the ninth, Komatsu hit an 0-1 changeup up the middle. Second baseman Rickie Weeks gave chase, but the ball was far enough to his right that Komatsu was able to beat out the throw for an infield single.
"That hit was earned," Komatsu joked afterward before adopting a more serious tone. "It was a special moment. My heart was racing as I walked up to the plate. It was special."
It was made even more special by the fact that it came with five family members, including his parents, in attendance and against the team that once traded him away. Drafted by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Komatsu was traded by Milwaukee last July to Washington for Jerry Hairston Jr. He was then plucked by the Cardinals in the December Rule 5 Draft and placed on the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career this spring.
Matheny given a hand by fans in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- While a stream of boos rang out as the full Cardinals roster was introduced prior to Friday's series opener, there was one notable interruption.
Upon having his name announced at Miller Park, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny trotted onto the field amid a scattering of applause. This was, of course, the organization that gave him his start, and it was here in Milwaukee, on April 4, 1994, that Matheny made his Major League debut.
He struck out in his only at-bat in that game, but went on to play parts of five seasons for the Brewers. His tenure with Milwaukee ended when he became a free agent and signed with the Blue Jays before the 1999 season.
"It was a good place to begin," Matheny said shortly before the first of 15 Cardinals-Brewers matchups this season. "When I came up through the organization, I think it was very much like how the Cardinals have their philosophy. I was very fortunate to have a very disciplined Minor League development that really focused on the fundamentals and playing the game hard, playing the game right. I was fortunate in that regard."
He named Del Crandall, then a catching instructor, Bruce Manno, former director of player development, and Bob Humphries, once a Minor League field coordinator in the organization, as among the most influential during his formative years. Milwaukee's current third-base coach, Ed Sedar, also worked with Matheny during his climb through the Minors.
"They just had some good people here," Matheny said, "that understood how to go about the game."
Cards' lineup reflects slate heavy with righties
MILWAUKEE -- After facing an unusually high amount of left-handed starters during Grapefruit League play, the Cardinals begin the season with a bevy of right-handed opponents.
The only left-handed starter the Cardinals are scheduled to see on this opening seven-game road trip is Randy Wolf, who will take the mound for the Brewers on Sunday. The imbalance of that pitching schedule means that Daniel Descalso is likely to remain a regular in the starting lineup.
With the left-handed-hitting Descalso expected, at least initially, to earn most of the starts against right-handers, the right-handed-hitting Tyler Greene will be left without the regular at-bats that he was getting all throughout spring.
"I'd love to get him in there," manager Mike Matheny said of Greene. "But when the matchups don't make sense, they don't make sense. Right now I'm excited to get Danny back in there and see the same lineup stay together and see what they can do."
Friday's lineup was identical to the one the Cardinals used in their season opener on Wednesday. The lineup will likely remain the same for much of the month, too. With five off-days in the first 27 days of the season, Matheny won't have to worry so much about his regular starting position players being overworked, and therefore, he won't have to manufacture extra days off for them.
General manager John Mozeliak said he anticipates providing his next update on Chris Carpenter (nerve irritation) during the Cardinals' series in Cincinnati next week. Right now, Carpenter is back in St. Louis where he continues to try to strengthen his right shoulder.
Allen Craig (right knee surgery) has also returned to St. Louis so he can get more individualized attention than would be available in Jupiter, Fla., where dozens of players are participating in extended spring training. Craig will eventually return to Florida when he is ready to again participate in games.
Mozeliak said that Skip Schumaker (right oblique strain) is "probably getting close to taking game at-bats." Where those will come hasn't been determined. Schumaker could participate in extended Spring Training games, where he'd be able to get the most at-bats, or he could begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Single-A Palm Beach.
First baseman Matt Adams wasted no time showcasing his power as he homered in his first Triple-A game. That was the only hit Adams had in Thursday's season opener, which Memphis won, 3-2.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.