There were dire days last year, Adam Wainwright admits now, when he considered hanging it up. Sure, the most celebrated Cardinals pitcher in recent memory was under contract through that season and the next. But his fastball felt less fierce. His curve became less compliant. Coming off his least-effective season to date, Wainwright had a 6.12 ERA through April. And the famed competitor in him couldn't bear it. "I don't want to be not great at this game," Wainwright thought. "I started thinking about retirement." Flash forward to Thursday, when Wainwright called an impromptu press conference at the Cardinals' Spring Training facility to declare that his days of doubt were over. "I got a big announcement to make," said Wainwright, arms folded, after assembling the full media corps following a one-on-one television interview. "Here's the announcement:" Wainwright, 36, has sensed the concern swirling around Cardinals nation, where so many tweets, so much early-season radio chatter, so much of the winter conversation centered on questioning how much the righty has left. It's a fair criticism, given the way Wainwright finished 2017. Slowed by back and elbow injuries, the former Cy Young contender ended the year in relief, with a 5.11 ERA and a fastball hovering around 85 mph. He underwent offseason elbow surgery, and enters the final year of a five-year, $97.5 million contract extension a wild card in the middle of the Cardinals' rotation.