By Rob Rains
By now, 18 seasons later, it’s become a place of honor inside the Cardinals’ clubhouse. But in the spring of 2006, when the current Busch Stadium opened, it simply was the last locker along a wall reserved for the team’s pitchers.
Because he ranked last in seniority on that staff, the locker went to 24-year-old rookie Adam Wainwright. It’s been his locker ever since.
It’s the place where pitchers, and position players for that matter, reached out to him for advice. It’s the place, usually with an empty locker next to him, where players felt comfortable because they knew that no matter what they wanted to talk about, Wainwright would be there – listening, analyzing, offering suggestions and hope – whatever response was appropriate at the moment.
Over the years Wainwright’s role progressed from being like that of an older brother, in the opinion of Lance Lynn, to now, in the view of Zack Thompson, becoming the team dad.
It truly will be the end of an era on Sunday, when Wainwright will wear number 50 for the final time as an active player. Next year, perhaps, there will be somebody else sitting in that familiar locker.
What Wainwright hopes continues when it’s not his locker anymore is that all of the players he has counseled, encouraged, challenged or motivated over the years won’t forget the lessons they have learned along the way.
Many players who came under Wainwright’s wing during the last 18 years left and moved on to other teams. They took those memories, and lessons, with them – and began to spread them to others. There is no true way to measure the impact, and influence, that Wainwright has had over the years and will continue to have as long as those players continue to be involved in the game.
One moment from this season, one of the most difficult in his own career and certainly the most challenging for the Cardinals during Wainwright’s tenure, will stand out forever to manager Oli Marmol.
It speaks to everything that Wainwright has tried to accomplish, not only in baseball, but in life.
“He continues to invest in the young players who will be here for a long time, knowing that he is not going to be a part of this next year, but he continues to spend his time and energy making sure that he leaves us in a good spot,” Marmol said.
“We were in Kansas City and he had a bad game, he got beat up pretty good. (Andre) Pallante also had a bad game and you came into the clubhouse after the game was over and you could tell Pallante was out of it, not sure what to do. Rather than Waino sitting in his own misery, he pulled up a chair and sat next to Pallante for a solid 15-20 minutes and just continued to tell him it was a learning moment for him.
“That’s who he is. He’s never so consumed with himself. He’s constantly looking to invest in others and make those who are in the room with him better. That’s why he’s earned the respect of everybody in this game.”
Since the start of the 2006 season, not counting position players who appeared in a game as a pitcher, there have been 179 pitchers who have had the chance to be Wainwright’s teammate, an alphabetical list that runs from A (Sandy Alcantara) to Z (Guillermo Zuniga). The Cardinals have had 68 pitchers start at least one game over those 18 seasons. Wainwright has the most games, 478, and the most starts, 411.
Second in appearances is Trevor Rosenthal, with 328, while the starters with the most games following Wainwright are Lance Lynn (161), Michael Wacha (151) and Jaime Garcia (147).
There likely aren’t many on that long list who don’t have their own Wainwright story to tell, similar to his postgame chat with Pallante this summer – about a moment, a conversation, a suggestion — that became instrumental in their career and their life.
“I’ve been with eight organizations now,” said Rosenthal. “I’ve never met another Adam Wainwright.”
For the Cardinals’ current pitchers, and those who will be on the roster in 2024, not having Wainwright occupy the same locker he has had since 2006 will be a major change.
What should happen to that locker? Ryan Helsley, now the closest occupant, has an idea.
“We should put it in glass and make it a shrine,” Helsley said. “Don’t let anybody touch it.”
Wainwright was recently asked, of all the pitchers who have been his teammate, who did he think he had the most impact on and influenced the most over his career?
“You will have to ask them,” he said.
So we did. Here, in their own words, are the stories of how 10 pitchers who spent time with Wainwright in St. Louis, were impacted and influenced, not only about their careers, but about their life:
I grew up in a broken home and a broken culture. When I got called up to the Cardinals, I was a mess. I had no understanding, no wisdom. I was ignorant, I was broken in my mind, my spirit, my body. I didn’t speak English. What I did have was a willing heart – a hunger and willingness that I wanted something else. Then I met Adam.
I didn’t know anything about faith or religion. When I watched Adam, I didn’t know what it was, but all I knew is I saw something that I had never seen in a person before. I saw humility combined with courage, integrity combined with genuineness, a warrior mentality combined with gentleness. I remember saying to myself, ‘I don’t know what that is, but I want that.’
I wanted to be real. I saw his actions speak louder than words. It was the person I saw when he pitched well, the same person he was when he pitched bad. The person he was at home with his wife and daughters. He was the same person I saw on the road, doing Bible studies at 2 a.m. and serving people. He was always the same person, and that’s really rare in the world.
I’ve told Adam since that I really don’t remember things he said or remember him quoting scriptures, but I remember how he lived and how he treated people and how he went about his day. What did he do for me? He taught me how to become the best version of myself.
The more I found out about his faith, I knew I wanted that even if I really didn’t know what it was. Adam invited me to Bible study and to Baseball Chapel. Then he invited me to a conference after the 2011 season. We had just won the World Series, and it looked like I was on top of the world. But inside I was as low as I’ve ever been. At the conference I got connected with a group and a community and that was the beginning of the rest of my life.
I wanted to make a difference in the world, and it started by watching him living the life he was living. I went from an insecure, ashamed person to who I am today, mentoring kids and having an impact because of what God is doing through me. We all have a person in our lives who is used for a purpose – to give us hope.
There are others who can quote scriptures better than Adam, but I don’t remember them as much. The only way you can have a real impact on a person is when you allow them to come inside, allow them to see who you are in private and in public. You’re talking about the root of a person, the character and the integrity.
Adam is a person that anybody who comes around him, he’s going to have an impact. He is going to make people better. He is going to add value to people. He’s a servant. He lives to bless others and he’s leading an abundant life.
Am I going to give Adam part of the credit of why I played 11 years and came back from three surgeries and started two games in the World Series? Because Adam gave me hope? No. What Adam did was he completely transformed my life. He freed me. We’re not just talking about the major leagues, we’re talking about saving lives, about transforming lives and bringing light to a lot of people.
It doesn’t matter if he helped a thousand kids better their mechanics and get to the big leagues. He is doing things at a much higher level.
Adam and I just connected right away. We both were outdoorsmen, we both liked barbecue and country music. We became real good friends and then he became much more than a friend. He became a mentor.
I watched him as a father and a husband, and he became the most impactful teammate I ever had in my career and the most influential. Watching him raise his kids before I had kids kind of put things in your head of ways you wanted to be when you had your own kids.
The charity stuff that he was doing – we started our organization after he took my wife and I on a trip to Haiti and exposed us to the work they were doing. We’ve been running Brace for Impact for nine years and have been able to help tons of people, all from him inviting us and taking us on that trip.
On the baseball side, we were very similar style of pitchers. I always say we had the same pitches but one of us could do it at a higher level than the other and more consistently. A lot of people don’t know when I was starting in place of him, after he had Tommy John surgery in 2011, while we were on the road I would call him every day at noon before that game and we went through the scouting reports and talked about the hitters and how we were going to go about it, before I went to the field and went through the reports with the coaching staff and catchers.
He was just always somebody who was there to help and willing to share information and try to build up as many people as he could. He’s an intentional leader. I would watch in spring training as he purposely sat in a different spot every day so he could get to know people. He would go to the rookie table where no veterans would ever sit so he could have conversations. That’s the quality of a leader. There was a ton to learn from watching him, but when he engaged in a conversation, he also was doing it to see if there was anything he could pick up too.
Adam is interested in more than just the game. He’s interested in your family, in you. He’s trying to pour into so many different parts of each person. Adam was a guy that if you came up to him on your first day in the major leagues he was right there with his arms wide open. From day one it didn’t matter who you were or it didn’t matter what spot you were on the roster or what position you played. He wanted to get to know you and see if he could help build you up.
Adam is the guy people seek out because they trust him. They know he has their best interests at heart, on and off the field, and is just somebody that everybody is genuinely attracted to. You could just see guys gravitate to him, anybody and everybody was trying to get some time with him.
Probably the biggest compliment you can give Adam is that the year he didn’t contribute on the field at all, in 2011, he was there everyday and still had an impact on everybody on that team.
When I went to Texas and got into that locker room, I sat there and went, ‘OK, what’s my plan here? What’s my role?’ I thought back to all my time with Adam and how that impacted me – and how I could use that going forward.
Adam’s legacy is spread throughout the major leagues. Part of why he has spent so much time with so many guys is trying to make sure that when he is gone, what he has done will continue. That was important to Chris Carpenter too, who was a different kind of leader.
Stuff like all of the other starters going out to watch bullpens for each other; I think it’s crazy other teams don’t do that. That is going to continue with the Cardinals.
If you look at people who left footprints on an organization, you can still see them years later. I know that is going to be the case with Adam.
I tell people all the time that Adam was the most impactful teammate on me that I ever had and what is the most impactful is that there are probably a lot of guys who would say that about him too. That’s just the way he poured into his teammates’ lives. It went above what is expected of guys in his situation.
Sometimes when you are considered an ace it’s all about stuff, all about going out every five days and giving your team a chance to win. Adam had all of that but what really made him an ace was how he was invested in his team. He had every reason and every right to be selfish and to only worry about himself and what he was doing but he never was.
It seemed like when I pitched he was invested in what I was doing. When I struggled he was invested into trying to help me turn it around. When I was successful he was invested in celebrating that. He’s a rare breed in professional sports; there aren’t many guys like him.
I remember when I got to my first big-league camp I was 24 years old wearing number 71 and there wasn’t any reason anybody would have cared about what I was doing in that clubhouse. Guys were trying to make the team or get ready for the season. Really from day one he allowed me to make a connection with him. One of the more special things that I’m proud of as a player was that I got to be teammates with some world-class baseball players and Adam wasn’t my teammate; Adam was my friend. That means an awful lot to me.
I knew he cared about me. It wasn’t like he was trying to be a good teammate so it would look like he was a good teammate. He cared about me, and I appreciated the heck out of that. When you are a young player it means a lot to have a guy to look at like that.
The biggest compliment that I could ever give Adam is not that I wanted to pitch like him because any of us would have wanted that, to have the success that he had. No, the biggest compliment I can give him is that he was an example for me. I wanted to be like him, not just the baseball stuff, but everything else beyond baseball.
I can pick guys who threw harder that I would have wanted to be like. But when you think about the type of player he was, his competitiveness and how important it was to him every time he stepped on the field and add in how important his teammates were to him, how much he cared about them as players and as friends, he was the best dude I ever played with.
When I saw him in Atlanta when he was trying to get to 200 wins, I could tell he really wanted to get there. I could tell he was frustrated. He told me to throw up a couple of prayers for a couple of wins for him, and I told him, ‘Adam you could get two more wins or you could get 200 more wins and that side of the win-loss column isn’t going to make the impact you’ve had on so many people any greater.’
He has a tremendous respect from his peers throughout baseball and it’s not just because he was great at baseball, which no doubt he is, but he commands that type of respect and admiration because of the type of person he is.
Let’s be honest – are there better pitchers in the history of baseball than Adam Wainwright? Yes, absolutely. But when you look at the respect that he has and how people feel about him … if there is anybody in the game who is playing now or has ever played against Adam that could say a bad word about him I would be shocked.
To me, looking back now and understanding that life is much bigger than the game of baseball, I don’t know how it can be any better than that.
I think the beauty of Adam is that since the day I met him, he’s still the same guy. He was never too high or too low. He was always there to make sure he was a good teammate and a good person and to make sure everybody was taken care of. That helped make me become a good teammate and a good person.
The beauty of Adam is that he is genuine. That’s what you learn about him. Over time, you saw that Adam is who he is. He takes care of people. He’s compassionate. He loves people. He loves helping people no matter if the camera is on him or not. When you see those things, especially as a younger player, it really helps you understand what it takes to be a major-leaguer but also what it takes to a good person at the same time.
There wasn’t anything that you couldn’t talk to Adam about. Adam made sure everybody knew he was there for them if they needed him. He wouldn’t force things on anybody but he was always there, like a big brother. If you were going through something he would give you little tidbits to make sure you knew he was thinking about you. When you see that as a young guy, that goes a long way and it sticks with you as you get older.
What I’ve learned in this game is that you try to learn as much as you can from everyone. You get a lot of advice along the way and you have to figure out how to make it your own. You can’t be like one person because it’s not genuine. Adam taught me how to be my authentic self by taking some good tidbits from him. That’s how you learn and grow as a person. You have to be authentic and genuine about what you do.
As a leader you have to know those times when it’s time to get your point across. There are times when a leader has to come to you. Adam did a good job over the years of making sure that in times where things needed to be said, he said it. There were also times when you kind of had to come to him, so it would be received on your end. He knew which time was right for both.
When I was coming up the starters were a tight-knit group. We would go to dinners and things that like. Adam loved to hang around his teammates and be part of everything, just being one of the guys. He loves talking to people and interacting in the dugout on days he’s not pitching. He loves to be there and loves to see his teammates succeed.
I think he would tell you that our relationship has grown over time. There was a lot of respect there. I was a person who had to come to him and he was always good to me. Over time doing stuff off the field for charity grew us closer and we probably are closer now than we’ve ever been.
There wasn’t anybody he would give up on. That’s also the beauty of him. That’s what makes him who he is. It’s in his heart and soul to make sure he is taking care of everybody as much as he can. Everybody took a little something from him. It didn’t matter if you had different beliefs or a different way of doing things. He was still going to help you in any way possible.
When I first came up Adam and Matt Holliday were two guys who really poured into me and kind of took me under their wings. Adam was inspiring to me because he had been drafted out of high school and all he had done was play baseball but I learned he was one of the smartest guys I’ve been around. He excelled at pretty much anything he put his mind to. He inspired me to push myself to get better and do whatever it is I’m called to do, in baseball or outside of baseball.
Adam attracts a lot of people because of his personality, but beyond that he’s such a high character individual that it leads him into being a servant and a great role model, almost like a mentor.
During my time in St. Louis, Adam was one of my best pitching coaches. In times when things were going well he would ask a really good question to try to help you think more deeply about your performance. When things were not going so well he would be the first one to grab me and pull me into the video room or go over situations that happen during the game and review it with me. He has such a great way of communicating by asking questions. He doesn’t just want to give you the answer.
Off the field he would invite me to an event, or just to come to his house to watch golf or football or have dinner with his family. All of those things were very instrumental in helping me understand what it looks like to be a husband, a father, and a productive member of society.
What probably goes underappreciated in some regard is that my story with Adam, there’s a lot of other people who have the same story. It’s really cool to see how many lives he has impacted – all of the people he’s led and turned into leaders, and then look at all of the lives those guys are impacting in the same way.
I’ve been with eight organizations now, and I have yet to meet another Adam Wainwright. I’ve been around a lot of superstars and different people in different organizations but there’s only one Adam Wainwright. There’s nobody else that I’ve seen who has done what he’s done and had the impact that he has had.
When I was in town with the Brewers he offered to come pick me up at my house and take me to the ballpark. He was still pouring into me on the drive, having a conversation about life, even though I was on the other team. When I was with the Nationals, coming back from my first Tommy John surgery, I was struggling and he was one of the first people to reach out to me. He gave me a great analogy about how what I was going through was similar to playing golf for the first time in a long while. You were so focused on hitting the ball straight that you tried to keep everything simple because you knew you didn’t have a lot to work with. But then you tried to do a little more, and then you started getting in trouble because you got away from your simple approach that made you successful. He is just always aware of the situation and sees an opportunity where he could provide some help.
I think Adam really strives for a level of selflessness and he keeps getting better at it every year. You see it with his wife and kids too. He’s in a profession that isn’t easy, with a lot of things going on, but at the root of it he has just really remained consistent through all of the challenges and distractions that come along. He’s one of the best at it for sure.
People were always around him, during batting practice while shagging in the outfield, or in the dugout during games. There was always a huddle around Adam. When that happens it’s not by accident.
Adam was always the guy who I would follow around and see how he went about his business, especially the first time I was in spring training. I wanted to see when he showed up, see when he left, what his workout schedule was like, when he ate, when he threw his bullpens, how he prepared for his starts … all of that.
I was always watching him to see what he was doing because at that time he had 10 years in the game and I was a rookie hoping I could be in the game as long as I could.
He was a great leader. I remember he would always say that he was trying to help the younger guys reach their full potential and added, ‘Even if you will take my job someday, my job is to help everybody raise their game to another level to help us win a championship.’
Unlike Adam, there are players in this league that will withhold information to try to keep their job security. They think they know it all. Those guys don’t last too long because they don’t make for a great teammate.
As much as the young guys like me were watching Adam, he was always watching us too. He was at every one of my bullpens, another set of eyes, acting like another pitching coach when I was with the Cardinals.
Even after I left St. Louis, I still believe I took a little bit of his game with me in kind of how I approach things like his competitiveness and his willingness to compete on the mound even when he didn’t have his best stuff. That was something I always found admirable as I watched him.
I could tell if he was going into a start not really feeling good and I was hanging on every pitch, hoping he could get through it healthy and compete his way through it and have a successful outing. I’ve been in those spots too; in his mind he knew his team was depending on him to make that start and he went out there and competed his tail off for as long as he could go.
I think what we saw in Adam is what makes you a good pitcher – being able to pitch through not feeling your best and still have a successful start. He did that throughout his whole career.
On the days he didn’t pitch, Adam always kept the other starters involved in the game. We had a rule that you had to be out in the dugout wearing your spikes. This was before the National League got the DH and Adam always said you never knew when the manager would call on you to pinch-run or to go up and get a bunt down. He said, ‘We’re going to be watching the game, rooting on our pitcher.’ I’ve definitely tried to carry that on to the other teams I have been on.
Off the field he was the one who got me involved in charity work and helping raise money for people that are less fortunate. You could see that exude off of him, the amount of time and effort he was willing to put into it. Adam lives his life in a different way than most people, always serving. That was very impactful. He helped bring that out of me.
I’ve seen how some of the things that you learned from him starts to click in later. Adam was a great mentor and when I moved on to another team it was a little weird for sure. You try to remember and think about what he would do in different situations and try to go about it the same way.
When I was a rookie my locker was right next to him. As we geared up for the playoffs, some of what he told me helped me be prepared for those postseason starts. When you are next to a guy like that, you have to try to take advantage of it for sure. I guarantee he put a little something into everybody who ever was his teammate.
The big thing between Adam and me was that we have a very similar outlook on life beyond baseball, the way we want to connect with people and help people outside of the game, using our platform in that way. It was something that really resonated in me and I assume it was something that he could see in me early on. It just blossomed into something that took off and allowed us to get closer.
When I looked at Adam as a baseball player I saw what most people see but I was also watching how he handled different circumstances and outcomes, how he handled success and failure. That’s all based around our faith and what we believe in. I was watching someone who had been doing it for a while at that level and how he handled things had a big impact on me. It gave me an understanding of what this game brings.
The big thing about high profile players and really just players in general is whatever they are doing, when you look from an outside vantage point, you really can’t get to know a person or understand a person. You have to be right there in the trenches with them or have that daily communication. I saw in Adam someone who had an impact on the field and in his community. I knew early on he was somebody I wanted to learn from.
I kind of go about things by taking in a lot of information and kind of deciphering it later on. Adam had the ability to make you feel comfortable in the room and make you feel like you were part of something. He would go out of his way to let you know that he was always available; that right there tells you something.
It’s a blessing to look back and see how everything progressed. I was able to go on mission trips with him to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Adam encouraged me to see it with my own eyes and when you do that, it changes you in a way that sticks with you and continues to push me and make an impact.
I recently saw the video with Mauricio Dubon and that shows what this platform can bring – the impact that he can have on others that he has never met. That was a really cool touching story and is a perfect example of the things Adam is capable of doing, has done and will continue to do.
All you really want to do is be able to pass that along and allow some of that to stir in the hearts and minds of people that you come across. You don’t try to push them but you just hope their hearts are stirred to do something. I think it’s very much like having a child. You want to do everything you can to help them conquer the world and have an impact, but you can’t just hold their hand all the time. You hope the impact was made, then you just sit back and marvel at it and appreciate it more than anything.
Adam always offered reminders that he was there for anybody who wanted it. When you walk on the same route every day and you kind of see the same things, you finally make the choice that you are going to do something about it and get involved. You find yourself at a place that you thought you might never be and it’s something pretty cool.
Adam’s big influence is just getting you through the door and from there you just have to decide what you want to do. After I went and saw the work his charity was doing, it’s always going to stick with me and is something that I have passed along to people. I know it’s hard, it’s not convenient to go there, but it’s something that will change your life.
Baseball is a funny game and pulls you in different directions and I always appreciate the time that Adam and I can share. He used to invite me just to come hang out with him and even though he’s a lot older than me, I never felt there was a distance there until I look up and see that he’s got five kids and been married for how many years. He’s got a lot of gray coming in.
He texted me recently about a play I made at first base in a game in Seattle that made the highlights. He was fired up about it. I told him that I knew he had two Gold Gloves but ‘you’ve never made a play like that.’ Giving each other a hard time is all part of it.
One thing about Adam is that he loves cheerleading more than anybody I’ve ever seen. Guys just gravitate to him. That’s never changed. His door is always open.
When I first came up to the major leagues, I took the approach of asking so many questions that I thought they might ban me from asking questions. One of the great things about Adam was that he was always there.
It’s not in his contract; he doesn’t have to tell us anything. He could just tell us to figure it out on our own but that’s not Adam. His experiences lead other guys into having success. That’s something you don’t get from a lot of guys. He takes time out of his day to give you verbal leadership and it’s always positive. He’s always pouring into everybody. He’s leaving every situation better than he found it, and that’s something you can’t say about a lot of people.
I know my relationship with God has gotten a lot closer since knowing Adam. I’ve actually got to pick his brain a lot about that too. I think I’ve taken some of the little things he does off the field and tried to emulate them in my life. I’ve done some of that with Miles Mikolas too. When you see good people it’s kind of like you just kind of see what avenue you want to go down yourself. It’s just special.
Adam’s living through example and whoever wants to come and hear that part of it, he’s open and accepting of whoever is around. That’s a pretty good quality.
He’s an open book about everything. You watch some of the new young guys now and it’s like they are a little intimidated by him. When we were in Baltimore recently he actually told some of them, ‘You know you can ask me questions.’ Then all of a sudden here came a hundred questions.
In every conversation that pops up it can go from a comment about a random TV show to a baseball tip. I remember my rookie year when we were in the dugout during a game, me and Jack (Flaherty) were right next to Adam asking him to ‘walk us through’ the sequences that were going on in the game. He was watching Yadi call the game, and he was calling for the same pitches right along with him. We got to see what he was thinking and how he approached games.
The most obvious thing you see with Adam is his demeanor. He carries himself like a winner regardless of the situation. When I see that, personally I always think he’s going to win. When things aren’t going his way I still feel like we are going to come back and win the game. I think that personality and focus kind of spreads through the dugout.
We’ve talked about how many different guys he has been teammates with over the years, and I think he remembers everyone and knows everybody else in the league. It’s fun to see the different relationships he has with guys. He had instant respect from day one. He likes to watch the young guys and try to help them out, but he’s always been there for every teammate he’s ever had.
I don’t want to think about what it’s going to be like not having him around. It’s going to be a tough loss for us. I know everyone here feels the same way.
My locker used to be on the other side of the clubhouse but after Flaherty, who had the locker next to Adam, was traded, the clubhouse guys asked me if I wanted to move over there. It’s kind of bittersweet knowing that I am over here just for this short stretch, the last guy who will have the locker next to him.
It’s been fun to be over here. He’s been such a great role model for me and everybody on this team. It’s crazy he’s had the same locker all these years.
He’s had such a great career but as great of a player as he is, he’s an even better human being. I think that’s what people hold onto the most, how good of a person he is, how much he pours into his teammates. He’s a great father, husband and friend.
Adam’s taught me how to be a dad and a good husband, how to be a good person and use the platform that we have to help our communities. We have such a great opportunity here and it’s such a short window; it’s something he’s instilled in this clubhouse. ‘You guys have a bigger image in St. Louis. People know who you are’ he says.
Adam sets the tone and set the precedent of what it means to be a St. Louis Cardinal and what this team stands for. You see a guy like him and he’s the same whether he’s had a bad game or thrown a shutout. When you see that personality, it makes you want to be that person; to be a ‘steady Eddie’ so to speak.
When you have the type of success and the long career that’s had, it doesn’t happen by accident. His attitude has always been that he wants to get better every day.
When I was going up and down between St. Louis and Memphis last year and even at the start of this season, Adam was always the first guy to give me a hug every time I went down and the first guy to come give me a hug every time I came back up.
He’s always a positive influence. Whether it’s a good game or a bad game he always finds something positive to poin out. He’s really good at seeing the game for what it is, and seeing it from an objective point of view and not being emotional about it. He is really good at helping guys navigate through the ups and downs of being a big leaguer and dealing with failure at this level.
I don’t think you realize how long he has been doing this until you get a little taste of what it’s like and you can start to appreciate how long he’s done it. There’s a lot of wisdom that comes from that.
As I’ve gotten to watch him and to got to know him, I’ve just been impressed by his determination and perseverance, with everything he’s been through. There have been some real trials and tribulations in his career with injuries, good times and bad. Just the willpower that it takes to be able to push through some of those things and get back up again and keep going back out there, taking the hits. It’s really a testimony to his character and who he is.
I’m always trying to watch him and see what he’s doing; listening to his conversations. When he’s talking about baseball you just try to soak it up.
After I started pitching out of the bullpen, I missed spending that time with him. One of the times after I came out of the game I actually stayed in the dugout instead of coming straight in to the training room and doing my arm care just so I could hang with him and the guys one more time.
He definitely has had a large impact on this entire team. His presence is always felt here and we will definitely feel his absence once he is gone. Until then we just have to try to soak up as much as we can and take in all of the advice we can get from him.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Photos courtesy of Scott Rovak, Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs, Luke Weaver and by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports
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