October 5, 2021
Los Angeles, California, USA
St. Louis Cardinals
Workout Day Press Conference
Q. Can you look back at a career pitching in the postseason, what do you remember from those games and how did that shape going into tomorrow?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Yeah, the funny thing about my postseason career is a lot of the good games I've pitched, we didn't win and my two biggest complete jokes we won both of them. That doesn't mean I'm going to go out tomorrow and do that on purpose. But it is interesting how baseball works sometimes. You can never -- you can never get too comfortable on any lead against these teams you play in the postseason.
Q. How much pride do you take in the start and what does it mean to be entrusted in a one-game, must-win situation?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I consider all postseason games that way. I know they are not all the same. But in a way there is so much momentum that goes with each and every start in the postseason. I treat them all like a win-or-go-home. I've tried to do that with every start of my whole career, also. Just treat it as that same level of urgency and big gameness, whether it's April 17th or it's October 17th, try to treat them the same.
It is a great honor bestowed on me. I know I feel confident and our team feels confident and our team as a whole feels confident about what has gone on in our clubhouse and on the field.
Q. Thoughts on pitching on three days' rest coming into tomorrow?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I mean, pretty good (laughter). It is a long season. So we thought about maybe trying to get in a game at the end, but just made so much more sense to get everything completely ready for this game.
Q. The defense you have behind you, a game like this has such margin for error. Can you talk about the guys behind you?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Yeah, been doing it all year. I trust them immensely. The guys behind me, I don't think I've played on a team that's this talented on the defensive side of the ball. Our outfield is certainly the fastest that I've ever been a part of; that covers the most ground, good jumps, good reads, diving plays all year long for me. We got Gold Glovers everywhere in the infield, our defense is special, no way of getting around that.
We have incredible defenders, and why would you not trust those guys.
Q. What have you learned about this team and this team and what can you take from previous starts that may be able to help you for tomorrow?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I think more than anything, the last year and a half, the last two years, last two seasons, and really the last two and a half seasons, it was an understanding, finally, of who I was as a pitcher. Kind of putting my ego behind me and just doing whatever it was necessary, whatever it took to win that game.
The first half in 2019, I tried it do a lot of different stuff. Tried to pitch like a lot of different pitchers. Tried to pitch up in the zone a lot and spray the ball around and it just wasn't who I was at a pitcher. I can do that, but that's not where I need to leave.
Kind of understanding where my body is, kind of took a turn, not for the worst but just different than when I was a younger player. I never have thrown as hard adds everyone thinks I threw. Never been a fireballer, never been a blazer, never sitting 95 miles an hour. Never has been me. You can check my average fastball every year in my career, even 2007, my first year starting was pretty close to this year's average fastball, actually.
But the hardest I think I ever averaged on fastball in a year was 92 in 2013. I was just never the fireballer. Taking that back even further and understanding that it's okay to not throw a hundred miles an hour, because you know what everybody else does, anyway. So maybe me throwing softer is kind of an outlier. I'm not trying to throw it soft. It's just the way it comes out. I would love to throw the ball a hundred miles an hour, but it just doesn't happen. I have to be comfortable in my own skin and go out and get the most out of my own ability.
Q. You don't look your age; do you feel it?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Thank you. Are you saying I look older or younger (laughter)?
No, I don't, actually. I felt way older than my age about three or four years ago and, you know, I feel, I think, significantly younger than my age. Every other job place in America, I'm still a pretty young fella, it's just in this job I chose I'm an old guy. That's the way I look at it. I'm still a young man in the eyes of the rest of the world, and I think as soon as you start buying into the age thing, if you buy into the fact that you're old, then you are. If you stop trying to do things like young folks do, sometimes you are.
Now I have to be smart about that sometimes. I don't still try to touch the ceiling in the weight room every single day like I used to, but occasionally you need to do that to keep yourself young. It's that fine line of staying young but also staying smart, trying to balance that.
Q. What changed that, the three or four years ago when you said you were feeling way older?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Changed my diet. I cut out -- for about a year and a couple of months, I cut out gluten and dairy and processed foods of all kind. Changed my workout program and conditioning program. Body felt drastically different pretty much right away.
Q. So much of your story is overcoming as adversity; as you look around the clubhouse, how do you see guys responding to failure, the bullpen and even guys in the rotation, and how is that a strength entering games like this?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I mention Tommy, he's a great case of what I was talking about earlier. Tommy started out the year, like the first half almost, leading the entire major leagues in hits, a bunch of doubles, a bunch of stolen bases and tried to lift the ball a little more.
We saw a guy, tried to drive it a little bit more and got out of his approach a little bit I think, and then you saw him go back to what he was really good at and be great at that. Now a guy who can drive it every now and then, but is going to hit doubles and is going to hit singles and get on bases and steal bases.
And that's who he is as a player. There's nothing wrong with that. That's what makes him special and what makes him unique. Sometimes as a player, when we try to play like other players, it doesn't work out. And sometimes you make adjustments and learn from somebody else something that helps you about you sometimes takes away what you're great at, and he's just one instance.
I think you saw a bunch of young players trying to find out exactly who they were as players and all Big League players go through that, whether you think you've got it all figured out or not, you will go through those moments where you are trying to figure out exactly who you need to be.
And not that you always -- you ever have it really figured out, but there are those times where you realize, okay, I got a way from what my bread and butter was, and now I need to go back to that, and I can do other things in a small way and I can do other things as a player. I think you saw other guys in our clubhouse who started getting down the right path of being able to do that successfully.
Q. You guys were optimistic about the kind of team you could be all season long. What did you learn about yourselves during that winning streak?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Definitely, definitely, it was a fun time, for the first time guys looking at each going I don't think we are ever going to lose another game again. That was a great thing to hear. Several people say that, like it feels like we're going to win every day, and I look at them and say, that is what a winning club feels like when they show up to the park. That is what championship teams feel like.
They feel like when they show up to the park, the preparation, work and all the stuff that they have done is going to prepare them, and they are going to win that game. That's the mojo they go into these games feeling like.
When you're on losing teams or teams who aren't really sure about their identity or their success potentially, they come to the park wondering what that's going to look like, are we going to win today, what -- what is going to happen when this guy takes the mound rather than, well, we are going to find a way to win.
And that's where we were at mentally and where we are going to try to continue in the postseason, is showing up every day, only figuring out how we were going to win. For a while we were figuring out how to lose. We were finding new ways each day seemingly to lose games, and that's what losing teams do.
Q. How do you feel now compared to how the team compared in June?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Yeah, coming to the park in June, it was like if one thing happened, that you could see the team almost deflated start to think, oh, well, here it comes again and that is what losing teams do.
Winning teams don't have that attitude. Winning attitudes for winning teams when something happens, you go, okay, well, we have got to punch back. We can come back from that. We will find a way to come back from that, and it's one thing to say, and it's another thing to believe it, but our team started believing it, and then you saw what happened.
Q. I don't know if fitting is the right word or cool, but what does it mean to you and Yadi to see a playoff game where Pujols is on the other team? Does that mean anything? Is it significant?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Not anything more. Nothing is cool about that team over there right now to us. They had a great regular season. They are a tough team. Albert is a great friend, but right now we are fighting. We'll make up afterwards. But we're fighting right now.
I was watching Last Chance U earlier, and they were going over the game plan and the team they were going to face, and one of the players marveled at how fast the other quarterback was. And the coach stopped him and said: Don't be a fan.
Right now we can't be a fan of that other team. We have to go out and compete.
Q. Do you keep in contact with him at all?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Yes. Albert is a great friend. We FaceTime and talk all the time.
Q. Have you spoken to him over the last couple days?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: No. Max and Clayton are both great friends of mine, also. We'll talk after.
Q. What changed, to make that transition, what changed that mentality?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I think you saw a couple things play into that. I think I've said this a few times already, but I think getting O'Neill into the 3-hole was a real empower of our lineup. It empowered Goldy and Nolan and getting Dylan in that 5-spot and having some people behind there that were successfully driving those guys in occasionally. Taking tough at-bats.
Those guys in the middle of the lineup, they really got going. I mean, we got, what, three guys in a row, almost four, that have OPSs over 800. Just that's tough. That's tough on a pitcher.
I've said all along the championship teams, they have at least three guys in their lineup. You can game plan as a pitcher. You can game plan around two guys, three guys makes it real tough because now you got lots of things that can happen and runners -- extra base hits and crooked numbers in innings in the postseason is what beats you.
So when you get a lineup like that with three or four -- this lineup over here has four or five guys in the middle of the lineup that they can beat you on any swing. Makes it tougher on a pitcher.
Q. Obviously you talk about this team, the two teams have a lot of history between each other, but do you feel like this is like the more intense game?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Yeah, one-games are tough, man. Because you play a whole season to get into the postseason, and this is a postseason. But it's -- anything can happen in one game. So we've been a part of a couple Wild Card games, and it is a harsh atmosphere out there. You know, there's a lot on the line. Winner-take-all games are just as -- I mean, it's as fun as it gets, right.
As a player, as a competitor, that's -- I always talk about the big moments when as a kid, it was never, you know, game 17 against the worst team in the league. It's all what you're going over in your mind in the backyard is always: Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, Game 7. It's always that deciding game. Just doesn't get more fun. We would have liked to have win our division and not have to do that, but here we are, so we're glad to be here.
Q. Max had some success against you guys in St. Louis, and you've had success against them in St. Louis. Do you glean anything from that?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Sounds like a scouting report to me, doesn't it.
Q. Can it help you with what you do tomorrow?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I can't tell you that. I won't tell you that. It's like a ridiculous thing for me to try to answer that question. Those guys over there, they listen to these things. I'm just going to throw fastballs right down the middle.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports