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JUPITER, Fla. — Adam Wainwright always had a knack for getting out of jams.

Even while struggling with control in his Grapefruit League debut, the St. Louis Cardinals star escaped unscathed.

The 36-year-old righty walked three and gave up two hits in two scoreless innings Thursday in a 3-3 tie with Minnesota. He struck out three but only threw 26 of his 47 pitches for strikes.

“I hit location about half the time, which is not nearly good enough but is a stepping stone,” Wainwright said.

Wainwright’s fastball mostly was in the high 80-mph range. Only a handful of his heaters hit 90 mph or above on the ballpark’s radar gun. His curveball is still a devastating pitch.

“When he got in trouble, he did what Waino does, which is he gets better,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.

Wainwright’s velocity dipped significantly last season, and toward the end his fastball often didn’t leave the low 80s.

“Last year I was hurt,” said Wainwright, who underwent minor elbow surgery during the offseason but is healthy now.

Prior to Thursday’s outing, Matheny said he hadn’t been concerned this spring with Wainwright’s velocity. After seeing Wainwright touch 91 a couple times against the Twins, Matheny speculated that the velocity could climb a bit more throughout the spring.

While Wainwright struggled with command, he changed speeds, created deception by varying his throwing motion, and worked both high and low in the strike zone.

“No matter what that velocity is, well located with the right kind of movement and late life, and being able to change eye levels, that’s pitching,” Matheny said. “And next thing you know you see that guy standing out there late in the game.”

Wainwright’s respectable 12-5 record last season tied him for most wins among Cardinals, but his 5.11 ERA hardly alludes to the elite pitcher Wainwright once was. A double-digit win total despite a sky-high ERA does, however, indicate the kind of competitor Wainwright is.

“It’s about making pitches and that’s something Adam does,” Matheny said. “And then, you cannot put a value on heart. I love that idea. Don’t rule out these guys who have been superstars. There’s something that made them great for a long period of time. There’s talent, but a lot of it’s the character of who they are and how they compete. No one can question that about Adam Wainwright.”

Matheny compared the transition Wainwright is undergoing in an attempt to extend his career to that of 20-year veteran Bartolo Colon, currently in Texas Rangers camp on a minor league invite.

“He completely changed,” Matheny said of Colon. “I remember seeing him when he came up with Cleveland. He was throwing hard — real hard — and he’s had to morph into a pitcher that can get outs. He turned into an absolute turbo sinker guy that wasn’t lighting up the gun at all, but it was freakish.”

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Mookie Betts goes ‘back to my roots’ at second base, homers in Los Angeles Dodgers’ victory

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PHOENIX — Mookie Betts looked right back at home playing his original position on Sunday.

Betts hit a homer in his first game back from the injured list and made a stellar defensive play at second base to help the Los Angeles Dodgers ease past the Arizona Diamondbacks 13-0 to win two of three in the series.

“It was a lot of fun going back to my roots,” said Betts, who usually plays in the outfield. “It was good easing myself back into play.”

With a sore left hip, manager Dave Roberts and Betts thought it wise to let him play second — the position he played when he came up with Boston in 2014 — to reduce the strain.

His hip didn’t seem to be a problem. In the first inning, he took a hit away from Arizona’s Drew Ellis. Playing on the shortstop side of the bag in the shift, Betts went back for a popup like a wide receiver hauling in a pass over his shoulder.

“That catch changed the landscape of the game,” Roberts said.

The Dodgers then scored five runs in the second, chasing Caleb Smith after Albert Pujols‘ bases-clearing double capped the scoring in the inning.

Betts later turned a double play when playing behind second, running to the base and firing to first to complete it. He’s likely to return to right field on Tuesday when the Dodgers host their 2017 World Series nemesis, the Houston Astros.

All told, Betts, who played one game at second last season for the Dodgers, had two putouts and three assists in the victory.

Trea Turner, acquired from Washington last week, is expected to play second and Max Scherzer is scheduled to start Wednesday in the second of the two-game set. Scherzer joined the team in Arizona on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a fun homestand,” Roberts said.

The Dodgers also play the crosstown rival Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium later this week.

Justin Turner hit his 20th homer with a three-run shot in the seventh and Betts connected off catcher Bryan Holaday, pitching the ninth, for his 15th. Betts was 2 for 5 with a walk and two runs scored.

One run would have been enough for the Dodgers. Julio Urias (13-3) pitched five scoreless innings and three relievers gave up no hits over the last four, capping the four-hit shutout.

A.J. Pollock peppered his former team with four hits, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.

“He’s carrying us right now,” Roberts said of the outfielder, who is batting .526 against Arizona this season over nine games.

Smith (3-8) struggled to find the strike zone for the Diamondbacks, walking five in 1 2/3 innings and throwing 70 pitches. The last pitch was Pujols’ three-run double on a full count. He walked Chris Taylor with the bases loaded to force in the first run.

“I hate walking guys. I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight,” Smith said. “Walks have killed me. I’ve gotta figure it out.”

Manager Torey Lovullo stuck with his starter because he got two outs after loading the bases before walking Taylor, giving up an infield hit to Turner and finally Pujols’ big hit.

“You want to give your starting pitcher a chance to work through those early-inning problems,” Lovullo said. “We needed Caleb to give us 4 or 5 innings. We were trying to get him through.”

Urias finished at 83 pitches, walking none and striking out seven while limiting Arizona to four singles.

To make room for Betts, the Dodgers optioned utility man Zach McKinstry to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Los Angeles also selected the contract of RHP Yefry Ramirez from Oklahoma City and sent RHP Mitch White, Saturday night’s starter, back to the Triple-A team.

The Associated Press contribute to this report.

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Kris Bryant joins ex-Chicago Cubs teammates Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez in mashing debut homer

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Kris Bryant on Sunday joined former Chicago Cubs teammates Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez in making an immediate good impression with his new team.

The now San Francisco Giant hit a two-out solo shot in the third inning of a 5-3 win over the Houston Astros. Two days earlier, Rizzo crushed a 449-foot solo home run in his New York Yankees debut while Baez mashed a two-run dinger in his first game with the New York Mets the following day.

The former Cubs became the first trio of ex-teammates in the Modern Era to start the season on the same team, and then homer in their respective debuts with a new team later that season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Acquired in a trade with the Cubs for two minor league prospects just minutes before Friday’s deadline, Bryant was greeted by chants of “KB, KB, KB” when he trotted onto the field for pregame warmups and received a standing ovation before his first at-bat.

The four-time All-Star was cheered again after striking out swinging. Those cheers got louder after Bryant crushed an 0-1 pitch from Luis Garcia (7-6) into the left field stands for his 19th home run this season.

“It’s nice to really feel welcome,” Bryant said before the game. “Barry Bonds was my favorite player. I still have the autograph that my mom went and bought at the mall. Now I’m here. It’s kind of weird.”

It wasn’t a perfect debut for Bryant, who started at third base. His throwing error on Martin Maldonado‘s grounder down the line in the fifth gave the Astros a runner in scoring position with no outs. Logan Webb retired the next three batters to work out of the jam.

Still, Bryant made it clear how valuable he will be to the Giants as they attempt to stay in front of the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in the NL West.

“It’s a bat that really lengthens our group and makes our bench better,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said of Bryant. “It makes it more difficult to get through the top of our lineup. He’s going to be good for us.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Alex Cora encouraged as Chris Sale, Kyle Schwarber move steps closer to joining Boston Red Sox

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale will make a fifth minor league rehab start later this week for Triple-A Worcester as he moves closer to pitching in the majors for the first time since Aug. 13, 2019.

Sale had Tommy John surgery in March 2020.

“We’ll re-address the situation after that but he’s getting close,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said before Sunday night’s game at Tampa Bay. “We’ll see where it takes us.”

Cora said Sale “felt great” one day after allowing one run over five innings Saturday for Worcester.

The Red Sox had lost four of five entering Sunday, including the first two games of a three-game series with Tampa Bay, that dropped them a half-game behind the AL East-leading Rays.

There is also encouraging news about recently acquired slugger Kyle Schwarber, who is currently out with a hamstring injury. He will take part in an off-day workout Monday in Detroit.

Schwarber will continue doing defensive work at first base where the team hopes he will be able to play at the unfamiliar position. He is nearing a rehab assignment.

“We’ll sit down on Tuesday or Wednesday and see where we’re at,” Cora said. “As far as the progress of the injury, we’re excited. The progress has been great. We’re hoping he goes on a rehab assignment sooner rather than later.”

Boston got Schwarber from Washington for a minor league pitcher last Thursday. He last played on July 2.

Utilityman Marwin Gonzalez (right hamstring strain) will also join the team for Monday’s workout and could be back Tuesday night when the Red Sox open a three-game series with the Tigers.

Right-hander Matt Andriese (right hamstring tendinitis) had a live batting practice session.

Reliever Brandon Workman, designated for assignment last Thursday, was outrighted off the major league roster and elected to become a free agent.

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