(BaseballStL) — Two days after Yadier Molina cleared a hurdle in his recovery, Michael Wacha jumped one of his own.
Saturday before the third game with San Diego, the 23-year-old pitching phenom threw off a mound for the first time since June 17.
“It felt good to get back out there on the mound,” he said. “It’s the first time in awhile, but it felt good, arm felt great.”
Read: Molina says he feels 'way better than expected
Wacha has been on the disabled list since June 22, dealing with a stress reaction in his right shoulder. Recovery has been slow, with stretches of treatment and workouts marked by MRI waypoints.
It’s a peculiar injury, something the Cardinals have worked hard to make a roadmap for heading forward. Still, even the smallest progress is an exciting sight.
“It’s a great thing to see, but just a step forward, we’re not putting too much pressure on him,” Mike Matheny said. “He clears this hurdle, he goes to the next one. If he clears that hurdle and something doesn’t look exactly right, you certainly don’t try to make him jump the next one. It’s just a process.”
It’s an aggravating process for a young pitcher who has been so influential in St. Louis’ success. Unlike many injuries, there isn’t a cast to come off or a pulled muscle to heal. Wacha has remained in roughly the same shape throughout his rehab, waiting patiently for the newest MRI results to show if his shoulder can handle the stress of throwing.
“It’s definitely a lot of anxiety. You just want to get out here and want to start throwing but I understand, you know, you have to take your time with these kinds of injuries,” he said. “It’s important not to rush back too quick. That’s how I’ve been dealing with it mentally and I understand longterm goals as well.”
Saturday’s bullpen session should help lessen that anxiety, even if it was light. Wacha threw 30 pitches, mostly to get in the swing of pitching again. He threw mostly fastballs with about four or five of his signature change ups mixed in.
Now, he must wait again.
“Just see how my arm bounces back from this and then go from there. But I imagine I’ll be back on the mound in two or three days,” he said.
The big righty is scheduled for another exam Monday, where doctors will take MRIs of his arm and judge whether he is able to continue to push. For now, he’s happy to have made it one step farther down the road.
“It’s always good to get a new milestone. It’s one of those deals where whenever you’re cleared to throw it’s big day for you. Whenever you’re cleared to get your first pen in, it’s a big day,” he said. “I know it’s still a long road to go and I just keep working hard and stay the course.”