Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 8/5/12
ST. LOUIS Cardinals left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia believes he'll make just one more rehab start before being ready to rejoin the big league club. He's also pleased with the progress his left shoulder is making. Garcia, recovering from a left shoulder strain that landed him on the disabled list June 7, went 4 13 innings Saturday night during a rehab start with Double-A Springfield and allowed one run and two hits. He threw 64 pitches and had six strikeouts, six groundball outs and no walks. Garcia, 26, returned to St. Louis Sunday to join the team for a few days and throw a bullpen session for the big league coaches to watch before heading to San Antonio to start for the Cardinals' Double-A affiliate on Thursday. "It was kind of exciting to go out there and throw 62, 63 pitches whatever I did and go back out five times," Garcia said. "It was good. I was pleased with the movement I had on my fastball and I was able to keep the ball down. I'm making progress. "It's definitely better. I don't want to say it's where it used to be two years ago or it's 100 percent, I can't really talk about that, but I can definitely feel a difference and it's definitely better." The lefty had a 4.48 ERA in 66 13 innings before complaining that his shoulder didn't feel right. There wasn't much pain, Garcia said, but something in his shoulder was causing his pitches to lack velocity and the typical movement they normally have. Tests showed he had a shoulder impingement and he spent several weeks resting and strengthening the area. Garcia began a throwing program on July 4 and made his first rehab start a week ago for the Cardinals Gulf Coast League affiliate in Jupiter, Fla. "I'm definitely making progress but making that start Thursday, the next one I have is huge," Garcia said. "Just to go out there and build the pitch count a little bit more and just get that confidence and be able to be a little more consistent with my mechanics and get a little better command of my pitches and be ready to go when I come back. "It definitely feels better, just the way my shoulder feels and the way the ball is coming out, but I don't want to say it's coming out really good. I'm not going to go there right now, but its definitely getting better." Manager Mike Matheny said a six-man rotation wasn't likely when Garcia returned, meaning either Lance Lynn or Joe Kelly would need to be moved to the bullpen to make room for Garcia. Matheny said putting Garcia in the bullpen is not an option currently being discussed. Both Lynn and Kelly are projected to surpass their career highs in innings pitched Kelly will do it in his next start so the move to relief will be a nice way to limit their innings. Kelly appears the favorite to get bumped but Matheny wouldn't get into specifics when asked Sunday. "That stuff works itself out," Matheny said. "We just want to get all our players healthy and we'll figure out how to use them and use them the best we can. We're excited about Jaime making steps forward. "We've been thinking about this for a long time since he went down, trying to figure out what's best for us and best for everybody. We'll address that when we get to it. I think every start we're evaluating and re-evaluating and figuring out what we think is going to be best for us down the stretch." Matheny wouldn't confirm that Thursday would be Garcia's final rehab start, saying, "He's thinking further ahead than he needs to think. He just needs to get ready for his next one and we'll let him know what's best after that." The Cardinals starting rotation was one of the best in baseball in July. They recently rolled off 21 consecutive starts of at least six innings and their 3.59 ERA for the season is good for fourth-best in the National League. Asked about rejoining a rotation having so much success, Garcia said, "Those guys are doing a really good job right now and all I can say about that is everybody in the rotation deserves to be there. I'm here for whatever, man. The biggest thing for me is I want this team to win ballgames and I just wish everybody the best." Garcia went 26-15 with a 3.17 ERA in 60 starts from 2010-2011. The Cardinals rewarded him with a four-year contract extension last summer that began this year.
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