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In wake of Kershaw's jackpot, does Waino have regrets?

2014-01-18T23:30:00Z 2014-01-31T20:19:22Z In wake of Kershaw's jackpot, does Waino have regrets?By Derrick Goold dgoold@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8285 stltoday.com

ST. LOUIS • After news broke that Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw had signed a seven-year, $215-million extension that made him the highest-paid pitcher ever and set other records for baseball salary, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright sent him a congratulatory text.

It was not green with envy.

"Heck no. No. Not at all. I’m happy for him. Absolutely not. I was so happy to go into this offseason and not have to worry about being a free agent," Wainwright said. "I’m right where I want to be. People ask me the same thing about the deal I signed before. Do you have any regrets about signing the deal early? I have no regrets. Once I signed that deal, that was the deal I wanted to sign. I didn’t have to sign it. We worked to get to a number where I felt made it fair for both sides. This is where I wanted to be. Do I think I could have made more money on the free agent market? Absolutely.

"But you can’t buy happiness," Wainwright concluded. "I’m not going to be happier anywhere else than where I am right now."

Wainwright and Kershaw have been friendly for several years, and this winter Wainwright has made Kershaw a franchisee for the Waino's World charity initiative. Kershaw will run a fantasy football league in Los Angeles to raise money for a local charity and help Wainwright raise money for an international fresh-water fund. Max Scherzer has also agreed to launch a Waino's World franchise in Detroit. There are other major-league cities that will also have players involved in running Waino's World leagues.

During spring training last year, the Cardinals and Wainwright negotiated an extension worth $98 million.

Throughout the process, both sides stated repeatedly that they did not want Wainwright to get to the open market. The Cardinals wanted to sign him and cement him as their longterm ace. Wainwright wanted the stability that comes with staying in the place where he started his big-league career and has thrived as a result of it. The price point was the only difficulty.

They found it at a five-year, $97.5-million extension.

Both sides know Wainwright could have gotten more this winter in a free-agent market that has been slow moving for starters, but rich, rich and now with Kershaw's deal ... very rich.

"Clearly if that (Kershaw's $215-million deal) was on the board today when we were trying to sign somebody like an Adam it would naturally pull it up. We’re fortunate that the deal was done," general manager John Mozeliak said during the annual Winter Warm-up. "From a St. Louis Cardinals organizational view of things, what we hope is that we offer an attractive product in a place where players are happy to play and want to be here. Adam knew that if he wanted to go to market he would have done better. He knew that. And I think all of you did."

Some other riffs from Wainwright and others from Day 1 of the 18th annual Winter Warmup ...

-- Wainwright said he pushed his throwing program back two weeks. Instead of starting on New Year's Day, he only recently ramped up the throwing program for spring. He said his workload and the length of the season were the reasons.

-- The Cardinals are still deciding whether they will have to make a new hire for the person assigned to monitoring the game and making suggestions on when to use instant replay challenges.

-- Yadier Molina said he did rest his legs more this winter than usual because of the knee trouble that dogged him late last year.

-- Trevor Rosenthal worked out with Matt Holliday this winter and has increased his muscle. He has been throwing for three weeks and doesn't feel the added strength has limited his flexibility or ability on the mound.

"They don't know it," Rosenthal said when asked about being named the team's closer a week or so after the end of the 2013 season, "but I'm still competing for a starting spot."

-- Kevin Siegrist intends to prepare for spring as a starter to get all of his pitches ready to go, but he knows he'll serve in relief.

-- One of the first text messages Randal Grichuk received after his trade to the Cardinals was from left fielder Holliday, welcoming him to the team.

-- Oscar Taveras has spent much of the week here in St. Louis working out at a nearby establishment that has an agreement with the Cardinals and helps the team with strength training. He has visited St. Louis at least once every month this winter in order to have the Cardinals monitor his recovery from ankle surgery.

-- Jhonny Peralta said that he recognized the importance of playing well this season because it allowed him an opportunity to put his "mistake" in the background. Peralta finished last season serving a 50-game suspension for his ties to performance-enhancing drugs.

"I want to show to the fans and to the people that it’s not what everybody thinks about it," he said during his first public appearance with the Cardinals. "I know I can play baseball before the past. I know I can play baseball naturally. I have to show people that I can do it and that I can help."

And Wainwright gave a long and detailed advocacy for the season that rookie Shelby Miller had in 2013.

Asked how impressed he was with rookie Michael Wacha, Wainwright spun the question and said he was actually more impressed with the year Miller had. Miller won 15 games. Miller made all of his scheduled starts through the course of an entire season. Miller contributed fewer total innings than Wacha but pitched far, far more in the majors.

Wainwright said that deserves praise that Miller isn't getting.

"I think we get caught up in flashes of greatness when we had guys who were great all season," Wainwright said.

He added that some day maybe Kershaw would actually have a bad start once in his career and open the way for Wainwright to claim a Cy Young Award. Wainwright finished second to Kershaw in the 2013 voting. That was the third top-three finish of Wainwright's career.

Asked again about the gap between his annual average salary -- the highest on the Cardinals' team at around $19 million -- and Kershaw's record-setting average salary of more than $30 million, Wainwright shrugged. Kershaw is 25. Wainwright is in his 30s.

"The contract that he signed is amazing. There is no doubt about it," Wainwright said. "I've got two rings already. Great memories here. My favorite color is red now. I just feel like I bleed Cardinal red. There is no other color I want to wear."

Check StlToday.com for more coverage from the Winter Warmup all weekend.

Derrick Goold covers the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for The Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @dgoold or on Facebook at Facebook.com/BirdLandPD

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Baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel cover the Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch and STLtoday.com. They'll provide daily Cardinals updates here, from the start of spring training through the end of the season and beyond.

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