JUPITER, Fla. -- After seeking opinions on his ailing shoulder from a pair of physicians, Jaime Garcia returned to Cardinals camp on Friday relieved to know that no structural damage was found, but also willing to be patient in making a return to the mound.
Garcia said he plans to wait another 10-15 days before resuming a throwing program. That delay ensures that Garcia will not be ready to open the season on the active roster. With being ready for Opening Day no longer a possibility, Garcia simply hopes that this is the last hurdle he will have to clear in his return from shoulder surgery.
"The thing that I wanted to make sure was that there was no new structural damage to the arm since the injury," said Garcia, who underwent surgery in May 2013 to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his left shoulder. "It's a big deal for me. If something did change, it would have been tough to deal with. That's good news, and now we figure out a plan to get this fixed and get back out there as quick as possible."
On Friday, Garcia revealed that he had been feeling some soreness and weakness in his shoulder late in his offseason program. It was the first time he publicly admitted to not having felt entirely healthy. The uncomfortable sensation continued during his first two bullpen sessions of the spring. After he threw his third, Garcia said his arm did not properly recover. That prompted him to shut down his throwing program.
Doctors have since diagnosed Garcia with bursitis, which is the swelling of the fluid-filled sac between the muscles, tendons and joints in his shoulder.
"It was something that was going downhill for the last few days," Garcia said. "That's the reason why I wanted to know what was going on. If it had been something that was just sore to start off, sore after you throw, that's OK. But when you're on the mound and it's not getting better, that's when you want to know what's going on."
General manager John Mozeliak has said that Garcia likely has to prepare for the possibility of pitching with soreness for the rest of his career. Garcia said he understands that reality, but added that he felt it necessary to ensure that this was not a more serious issue before continuing his spring program.
"I've always pitched with soreness," Garcia said. "If you ask me the issue right now, it's not pitching through soreness. There's a difference between soreness and weakness ... and just not being able to throw the ball and not being able to recover. There is a fine line where you have to be careful.
"I'm here to go out there and pitch and do my job. Every time you deal with stuff like that, you want to make sure that it's something you can fix quick. I don't have to do any kind of surgical procedure. It's never easy, but it's something that I'm willing to go through and do whatever it takes to get me back on the mound."
Cardinals to practice replay scenarios in spring
JUPITER, Fla. -- Since Major League Baseball has agreed to expand instant replay in 2014, the Cardinals will use this month of Grapefruit League games to practice the process they'll use to challenge calls during the regular season.
With 18 of their spring games scheduled to be televised, the Cardinals will use that video to run through their new replay protocol. They will have someone stationed in front of the TV with a walkie-talkie that will allow him to communicate with the dugout. That is how manager Mike Matheny will get word as to whether or not he should challenge a call.
MLB has said it plans to have each team play five games during which instant replay will be used. In the games where it is not available, the Cardinals will simply go through the motions in a dry run.
"A lot of it is conversations amongst ourselves, amongst our staff of trying to figure out how to optimize the time we have out here," Matheny said. "There are some things that mechanically we're going to have to do a little differently, and there are games where we're going to do that. We'll be talking with the opposing managers, the umpires and try to maybe practice some of those days.
"Whether I go out there or not, there will be sometimes that I will and there will be sometimes where I'm talking about it at least, and maybe using some kind of communication between our video room and our bench. Just set the mindset for what's going on."
Matheny and his coaching staff actually started this preparation last season in the expectation that replay would soon be expanded. He and bench coach Mike Aldrete would discuss calls that they thought the umpire may have gotten wrong and talked through whether or not it was worth challenging.
Taveras still not ready for game action
JUPITER, Fla. -- Until Oscar Taveras shows that he is ready to run at 100 percent effort, the Cardinals plan to hold him out of their Grapefruit League games.
Taveras, who had season-ending right ankle surgery in August, has been slowly increasing the intensity at which he is running. Manager Mike Matheny watched Taveras run on Thursday and sensed that the top prospect was still running with hesitation. He also got fatigued late in the conditioning work.
"I think a lot of it is just that confidence in his mind," Matheny said. "He's just not quite there. I think he told you guys the other day that he was around 80 percent. But 80 percent isn't going to work right now. I think the medical team seems very confident that it is going to just take him pushing kind of through the last little steps more mentally, more than anything else, and just trusting it. Once we feel confident that he's not holding anything back, then we can use him in the games."
The Cardinals have not ruled out carrying Taveras on their Opening Day roster, though this delay will lessen the amount of looks the staff will be able to get of the 21-year-old outfielder. He was expected to need a breakout spring in order to head north with the Major League team.
• The Cardinals have lined up their rotation for the first week of spring games as follows: Lance Lynn will start on Saturday, Michael Wacha on Sunday, Joe Kelly on Monday, Shelby Miller on Wednesday and Adam Wainwright on Thursday.
• Outfielder Matt Holliday is expected to be the Cardinals' designated hitter in their game against the Marlins on Saturday. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta is also likely to make his organizational debut. The Cardinals do not plan to have Yadier Molina catch in a game until next week.
• Matheny, hitting coach John Mabry and third baseman Matt Carpenter will be signing autographs from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Gander Mountain Store off the Northlake Blvd. exit in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The event is free to the public.
• The Cardinals have scheduled a 'B' game against the Marlins for Wednesday. The scrimmage will provide another opportunity for pitchers to log innings. The game is expected to be held on the Marlins' side of the shared complex.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.