Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 5/3/12
ST. LOUIS Off to the worst start of his career and searching for answers, Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright turned to a friend and former teammate going through similar struggles: Albert Pujols. The two have remained close since Pujols signed a 10-year, 240 million deal with the Angels over the winter. With both in unfamiliar territory following extended rough patches, they've tried to help each other get going. "I wouldn't say that his start is any worse than mine was," Wainwright said. "That's kind of what we talk about, that we we're both being patient, knowing that our ability at some point will take over and God is in control of everything else." Wainwright and Pujols have exchanged text messages on a regular basis, trying to keep their former teammates positive despite uncharacteristically poor starts. Pujols entered Thursday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays hitting just .208 with no home runs and five RBI. After entering the season with 445 career home runs, the slugger has gone an eye-popping 101 at-bats without a long ball to start his Angels career. "I think people are making way too big a thing of it," Wainwright said of Pujols' struggles. "I mean is anyone worried that Albert's not going to turn it around? Just give him a couple of at-bats and yeah, it's a month, but that guy can hit six home runs in two games. We've seen him do it. I've seen him hit three home runs in a game numerous times. "He's a friend so of course I want him to do well, and I have no doubts that he will at all. Some of us are just pacing ourselves." A 20-game winner in 2010, Wainwright is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. He's already allowed a league-high seven home runs after not giving up more than 17 in any of his four previous seasons as a starter. He lost his first three starts of the year and has allowed at least four earned runs in three of his five starts. With the other four starters rolling for the first-place Cardinals, Wainwright has struggled to do his part. Wainwright's struggles are masked a bit because the Cardinals entered Thursday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 16-8 record and a 4 game lead in the National League Central. The Angels are in last place in the American League West and have been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball so far, making Pujols' slow start an even bigger story. The whole media every day is, What did Albert do,'" Wainwright said. "But that's part of the price you pay for being the best player in the game for 11 straight years. You're going to have all eyes on you and he knows that. He'll be fine. "Am I surprised? Yes. Do I think it will continue? No." And Wainwright is not the only former teammate to have an interest in Pujols. While some fans continue to get a chuckle out of his slow start, several Cardinals players are rooting for him to turn it around. "I don't pay a lot of attention to sports when I go home, but he's one of the guys I'll check the box score and see how he did," said reliever Kyle McClellan. "He was a great teammate for the four years I was here with him and you wish him nothing but the best. Obviously a new start and a new place and the new contract, it's a lot of added pressure and you hope he can overcome it and prove to people, because everybody here in St. Louis knows how good he is and can be. "You know he's going to hit home runs, you know he's going to get his hits and I just hope he gets going on that sooner rather than later." Said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a longtime Pujols friend: "I've sent him a text every once in a while, just rooting for him from a far. I know he's going to have a big season, it's just a matter of when he gets going. It's a tough transition going to a new team and I would have no idea with all the hype that came with him how hard it is, but I know he's going to have a great season. He's going to be fine." The Angels hope Pujols starts hitting soon. So do his former teammates.
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