(BaseballStL) — Michael Wacha’s journey back from his peculiar shoulder injury picked up steam Tuesday as the young hurler was cleared to throw.
“His MRI was encouraging,” John Mozeliak said of the 23-year-old’s test results following Monday’s exam. “It showed that he had been healing. I don’t think you’re going to be able to take a picture this year and it’s ever going to be clear, but the doctors and medical staff felt they were at a comfort level to allow him to take that next step.”
That next step will be a throwing program to rebuild Wacha’s arm strength, sapped from six weeks on the DL. The specifics of the program weren’t released Tuesday, but it was clear he will begin to work his arm out, then be reevaluated before graduating to full-tilt mound work.
“Just more kind of playing catch,” Wacha said. “Just getting my arm back in that motion, getting my release point down.
Optimism abounded from Mozeliak, who said young pitching sensation will begin his comeback in earnest now that doctors have signed off.
“He will be pushed as if he’s got the green light at this point,” he said.
For Wacha, much of June and July has been spent in the weight room in an attempt to help ease the stress on his shoulder.
“I'm trying to get back stronger trying to prevent it from happening again,” he said.
Mozeliak said the former first rounder has worked out his lower half extensively to take the stress off his upper body, in an attempt to prevent a reappearance of this injury. The club had been clear that they will focus heavily on prevention for Wacha, designing workouts and treatments to stave off future trips to the DL.
“For the last six weeks that’s exactly what he’s been doing so I feel really encouraged about where he’s at that way,” Mozeliak said. “I think from a pure physical standpoint, he’s probably as strong as he’s ever been.”
Though a return date is too uncertain to predict, the GM did say he believes Wacha could return as a starter when he’s cleared.
“Nothing we learned yesterday would indicate otherwise. It may be based on need and it may be just where he’s at physically, but according to what the doctors said yesterday, they feel like it would be as a starter as needed,” he said.
The recovery train may not be pulling into the station, but just moving along the tracks was enough for Wacha Tuesday.
“I don't feel anything in my shoulder. It definitely feels strong. It feels alive. I'm just excited about getting good news and getting started again,” he said.