(BaseballStL) — Michael Wacha’s first mile marker on his road to recovery came and went Monday morning, with a second set of exams to determine how his shoulder injury has responded to treatment.
Speaking before the game, General Manager John Mozeliak said the test results were encouraging, as the scans showed the young pitcher’s stress reaction was healing. Unfortunately, improvement wasn’t enough to begin penciling Wacha in for an upcoming start.
“Right now though, we’re probably going to keep him on that same program for another two weeks and just reevaluate then,” he said. “The best news would have been he would have been cleared to throw. But he’s not there yet and I think just taking a very proactive stance on this is best for him and his career.”
Baseball teams have little exprience dealing with the injury, with pitcher Brandon McCarthy being the only real example of its effects and impact on a player and their body. Because of this, the Cardinals are navigating near-uncharted waters.
“There’s not a lot of history on this, so for us in a lot of ways it’s creating our own road map,” The GM explained. “Having said that, we’ve had a lot of different doctors weigh in on this and I feel confident that these experts are giving us good advice.”
The club still doesn’t fully understand the cause of the stress reaction, but at this point there’s no evidence pointing to Wacha’s pitching mechanics. While the 22-year-old is still shut down from throwing, Mozeliak said he’s fully functional in the training room and weight room. Wacha, who had been optimistic about Monday’s results leading up to the exam, is obviously frustrated with the outcome. In an effort to not only heal the big righty’s shoulder, but prevent this from being something the team must manage for seasons to come, Mozeliak indicated the club will absolutely sure before activating him.
“You have a young pitcher who has thrown a lot this year and it’s probably not in his best interest not to really be part of the equation on ‘hey how are you feeling?’” he said. “Because I do think he feels a lot better, but he’s still not at the point where we can comfortably clear him to pitch.”
The GM said the results don’t alter his acquisition plans as the deadline nears. While Jaime Garcia is having an appointment Monday that could ensure he is out for the season, his shoulder made him questionable to return before that. With Joe Kelly on the verge of being activated, the Cardinals would have Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Carlos Martinez, Kelly, and Wacha when he returns (something the team seems to expect).
“I feel pretty confident that those five can be successful. There’s probably very few pitchers we could go out and acquire without having to give up one of those to begin with,” Mozeliak said. “That would just make it problematic. For us, I feel pretty good about where we are that way from a pitching standpoint.”
If the two-week timetable holds, Wacha would be reevaluated Monday July 21.