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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Pounded to become the most prolific battery in baseball history, St. Louis Cardinals stars Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina didn’t always agree on everything.
During one of their first outings at Triple-A Memphis, Wainwright kept shaking Molina’s signs.
“He came out on the mound and he said, ‘Man, you shake me every pitch. What is the market? Wainwright said, recalling the conversation. “It was just one of those days where, no matter what he called, I felt like I had a better plan.”
After the game, Wainwright said the catcher got in the face. The pitcher went straight back to Molina.
The two reached an agreement, and for most of the last decade and a half, the duo have been on the same page.
“They’ve been together for so long it’s almost like one person,” manager Oliver Marmol said. “They know how the other thinks. They have plan A coming into play, but that could easily flip to B, C, D; and they would be on the same page throughout.
For Wainwright, 40, the on-court relationship with Molina, 39, comes down to trust.
“The main reason for that confidence is that we know we’re prepared,” Wainwright said. “I know he spends hours and hours preparing for every game watching the movie, breaking down the batters.”
The threat of rain forced Wainwright into the backfield on Saturday for his final tune-up of the spring. The right-hander threw 89 pitches in five simulated innings, often working in game-specific situations.
Afterward, Marmol made official what had long been assumed: Wainwright will make his seventh career opener on Thursday when St. Louis hosts Pittsburgh. Unless something shocking happens in the next few days, Molina will catch him.
Wainwright said Marmol previously briefed him on opening day launch plans quite informally.
“We were talking about something else and he was like, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re starting on opening day,'” Wainwright said.
With 20 more starts together, Wainwright and Molina will have 325, passing Detroit’s Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan for the most career starts on the drums.
“It’s a pleasure to be here in this position and I will try to take advantage of it,” said Molina, who said it will be his last spring training.
In their 16 years together as major leaguers, Wainwright and Molina played roles in some of the greatest moments in Cardinals history.
Nothing is more iconic than Wainwright’s strikeout of Carlos Beltran for the 2006 NL Division Series Final. The Cardinals advanced to defeat Detroit to win their 10th World Series title.
Wainwright, Molina and the Cardinals won another title in 2011.
“We have a lot of memories together,” Molina said. “It’s definitely one of the good memories we have together. Hopefully we can do that this year too.
Wainwright smiles at the thought of that strikeout — Beltran would later become a teammate. But Wainwright would instead speak of a friendship with Molina that began when they were in the minor leagues and grew through air travel, bus travel and hotel rooms.
“The relationship started as a pitcher and catcher – baseball only, infield only – until 18 years later, 19 years later doing Thanksgiving with him at his house in Puerto Rico,” Wainwright said. . “Honestly, we were kids and now we’re old men – not old men, but older men – and we grew up together.”
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