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Cardinals' Adam Wainwright Discusses Playing Future, Charity Work amid COVID-19

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 8, 2020

JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 12, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mark Brown/Getty Images

Baseball's hiatus has given St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright plenty of time to consider his future in the game. 

At 38 years old, the extended time away from MLB has allowed the hurler to give his arm a longer rest and has him feeling confident he's not ready to walk away just yet. 

"If this had happened two years ago, I would have retired so fast, it wouldn't have been a second thought," Wainwright told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

He continued:

"Health has brought me back into a place of not wanting to be done yet. When health was an issue, and my arm hurt taking a spoonful of cereal, I knew it was maybe time to hang it up. But now that it doesn't hurt anymore, hurt when I throw a ball, hurt when I'm lifting, I'm having fun again. And now right when it's gotten fun again, I'm not playing."

Wainwright said he and his wife Jenny talked it over, and he's not going to give retirement much thought now. He'd like to play next year, as long as the Cardinals will have him back, noting he has plenty left in the tank. The right-hander was 14-10 last season with a 4.19 ERA and 1.427 WHIP.

During his downtime, the 14-year veteran has been throwing long-toss sessions with teammate Kwang Hyun Kim five times per week as well a bullpen once per week with the team's bullpen catcher, Jamie Pogue. 

Yet that hardly tells the story of Wainwright's actions during the coronavirus pandemic. 

More than anything else, the Georgia native has immersed himself in philanthropic endeavors to help aid COVID-19 relief efforts. 

Aside from donating $250,000 to minor league players in the Cardinals' farm system, Wainwright's Big League Impact nonprofit partnered with country music star Garth Brooks' Kids Foundation to provide more than 4 million meals to students. 

"It hit home for us right away," Wainwright said of the donation to minor leaguers. "We played with lots of players who struggled through that, working two jobs in the offseason. And we played with guys who were very talented who had to quit. When you think of professional baseball players, you think, 'rich'—big fancy cars, big houses. That's just not the way it is for minor league players."

Wainwright initially wanted to keep his donation private but told Rosenthal that once players began texting him about it, he let the public know in hopes it would inspire others to donate. 

Colorado Rockies infielder Daniel Murphy ended up donating $100,000 to the cause, while Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo gave every farm player in the organization's system $1,000. 

To date, Big League Impact reports it has raised $4.5 million and helped provide aid for 650,000 individuals.