116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Normally, the paths of neighbors and friends Zach Johnson and Adam Wainwright would seldom if ever cross between March and October.
But while Johnson was navigating the back nine holes of Augusta National Friday at the Masters, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Wainwright was in the gallery following him.
Last year, Wainwright was a 20-game winner for the Cardinals and was the runner-up to Philadelphia's Roy Halladay in the National League's Cy Young Award voting after finishing third in that balloting in 2009 when he won 19 games.
Wainwright had established himself as one of baseball's best on the mound, with a 64-34 mark as a Redbird starter over the last four years. But on Feb. 28, he underwent the Tommy John reconstructive surgery for his right elbow, which requires a full year of recovery and rehabilitation.
At 6-foot-7 and wearing a cumbersome-looking articulated brace on his right arm, Wainwright sort of stood out in the Augusta crowd. He has a noticeable fresh scar on the back of his right arm. He also has a wrap on his lower left leg because he had tendon from his left hamstring removed to replace the frayed ligament in the right elbow.
But his walking wasn't impeded as he watched Johnson navigate Amen Corner and Augusta's finishing holes. Johnson and his family moved to St. Simons Island, Ga., in 2009. That's Wainwright's hometown. Johnson said the two became friends a couple years ago.
“Ping-Pong, Bible study,” Wainwright said. “He's a great guy.”
He claimed to have defeated Johnson in table tennis.
“That's very inaccurate,” said Johnson, who takes his table tennis prowess seriously. “He beat me in the 40-yard dash, but he's a horse.”
“He's a quality guy. His wife's family, I believe, have had tickets here for years. We invited him. He's played here a few times, but he's never been to the Masters.”
Nor had the 29-year-old planned to attend the tournament for another 10 years or more. The Masters is in April. Baseball season. Normally.