JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Michael Wacha hopes an offseason weightlifting program strengthened the muscles in his right shoulder and will prevent another shortened season.
“All I can really say is that my arm just feels good right now,” Wacha said Wednesday after allowed two hits in three scoreless innings during the St. Louis Cardinals’ 9-3 win over Washington. “I’ve just got to stay on top of it, stay locked into it, keep working out, stay strong and keep going, but everything right now is feeling good.”
Now 25, Wacha was 4-1 in the postseason as a rookie in 2013, and he was selected as the MVP of the NL Championship Series MVP after shutting out the Los Angeles Dodgers for 13 2/3 innings and earning two wins.
An All-Star in 2015 when he went 17-7, a stress reaction in his right scapula limited Wacha in 2014 and last year. The Cardinals developed the offseason program “to do something a little bit different to get different results as far as strength goes,” manager Mike Matheny said.
Wacha struck out three against the Nationals, reaching 96 mph and using an improved curveball.
“He was so good today,” Matheny said.
Wacha has not allowed a run in six innings over three spring training outings. Ahead of camp, it was unclear whether he would have to earn a rotation spot, but Alex Reyes’ season-ending elbow injury solidified Wacha’s position as a starter in a rotation with Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake and Lance Lynn.
Wacha is 9-1 in spring training in his career. Thus far, he’s happy with the shoulder-strengthening workouts.
“It’s not just so I can feel good right now, it’s so I can feel good late in the season,” Wacha said.
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