Adam Wainwright will pitch in the St. Louis Cardinals' first spring training exhibition in one week against the Florida Marlins, putting the NL Cy Young Award runner-up in line to take the mound for the March 31 opener against the San Diego Padres.
Wainwright's only other opening-day start was 2009. Chris Carpenter pitched the opener last year.
"If it happens then that would be awesome," Wainwright said. "It's a tremendous honor, especially in St. Louis. As fun as it is to play the first game, the crowd is even more buzzing than it normally is — that amazing feel in the air baseball's back in town."
Manager Tony La Russa would not reveal his rotation to start the season — "Too early," he said, adding he would wait for a slow news day to make that announcement. During the first week of exhibition games, Wainwright will be followed by Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse.
Wainwright concentrated on commanding his fastball during his side session on Monday. He faced the Cardinals' top hitters.
"I felt for the most part I did that better than I have been," he said. "In my side sessions my offspeeds have been ahead of my fastball. I got that good downhill plane. I was able to work down in the zone a lot, worked in and out a few times."
Wainwright was 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA last season, finishing second in the league in wins and ERA. In 2009, he led the NL in wins (19), innings (233) and starts (34), winning a Gold Glove while finishing third in the Cy Young voting.
"I want to make sure going into the first day of the regular season that I have everything right where I want it to be," he said. "If there is a pitch that needs work I'll work on it, if not I'll continue to work on it as a whole."