MESA, Ariz. - Spring Training games haven't even started yet, and the Cubs are already gaining in the National League Central race - although nobody at Fitch Park was celebrating about it.
``It's a little different now,'' Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said of the division's look after the St. Louis Cardinals' appeared to lose All-Star starter Adam Wainwright for the season because an elbow injury.
``This guy won 40 games over the last two years. They're a different team without him,'' Ramirez added. ``He's one of the best pitchers in the National League. They're your rivals, but you don't want to see that happen to anybody.''
Wainwright is 64-34 the past four years as a starter - including 39 wins the last two - with a career 2.97 ERA.
``It makes me sick,'' said Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins, who spent 29 seasons with the Cardinals' organization before the Cubs hired him away in 2008. ``I know what the rehab is for one of those [Tommy John] surgeries, and it just kills me when anybody has that. ... That's a pretty good blow for the Cardinals right now. That's 18 to 20 wins. That's hard to replace.''
Said Cubs manager Mike Quade: ``You want to win and compete and all the rest of it, but you don't like to see anybody get hurt. I feel bad for him. ... That's a damn shame.''