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Wainwright: Cards had solid TJ rehab plan

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins has mentioned possibly patterning Matt Harvey's return from Tommy John surgery after how the St. Louis Cardinals reintroduced Adam Wainwright to the majors in 2012 from the same elbow procedure.

Wainwright expressed approval Monday at Cardinals camp regarding how St. Louis officials handled his return.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Adam Wainwright endorses the plan the Cardinals had for his return from Tommy John surgery.

Wainwright acknowledged that it proved wise to cap his early season starts. He threw 88, 58 and 88 pitches his first three starts and did not crack 100 pitches until May 6.

Performance-wise, Wainwright had an uncharacteristic first year back by his standards, going 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA. Still, he was allowed to log 198 2/3 innings, plus another 15 in the postseason.

The following year, with the reins off, he went 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA and logged a career-high 241 2/3 regular-season innings, plus 35 more innings in the playoffs.

Wainwright's average fastball velocity leaped from 89.9 mph in 2012 to 91.2 mph in 2013.

"There was definitely an adjustment period to get that feel back," Wainwright said. "One day it would be one way. Another day it would feel a different way. ... Even though your body or your arm might feel good, there is still at least three months after you start -- if you come back in a year exactly -- where you’re going to be not who you want to be. That’s kind of what I went through. ...

"When I came back after 12 months for short stints I was nasty. When we first started doing rehabs I was throwing 93 with movement, cutting people up -- with one or two innings. Once we started expanding that, stretching it out, it became very hard at game speed to do that."