JUPITER, FL (KMOV.com) -- Though the Cardinals lost a major piece Monday in Jhonny Peralta, they made strides toward getting several others back.
Yadier Molina is healthy enough to catch in a game, and will make his debut Wednesday against the Marlins.
Mitch Harris, slowed down to avoid injury, will also likely get into a game for the first time Thursday.
Behind them, closing in on game action, is lefty Tim Cooney. The 25-year-old made several starts for the Cardinals in 2015, rebounding from a tough debut to assemble a strong first turn in the majors.
He entered camp this year with a shot at a bullpen spot, but was put into a training and rehab program after his arm was sore following an early throwing session. Monday, he threw off the mound for the first time since being halted.
“It was a big step actually. I felt really good,” Cooney said. “It was exciting to be throwing off the mound because I’m watching everyone pitching in games in stuff and I’m just getting antsy.”
After some arm “achiness,” the Cardinals brought Cooney in for an evaluation. Determining he had some weakness in the shoulder that could lead to injury if pushed too hard, his throwing program was stopped and a medical program began.
“There’s kind of a fine line between pitching through just a little bit of soreness you get from pitching and something that is a little more than that. This time of year you’re trying to be a little careful, so I understand the progression they’re putting me through,” Cooney said, describing it as a combination of strength work and flexibility training. “ It’s about stability in the shoulder and strength … It’s definitely paying off and I’m feeling strong, so that’s good.”
The Wake Forest product looked comfortable on the mound Monday, and will likely throw again this week if evaluations go well.
Moving forward, he will maintain the same program, though at a lesser intensity. There may not be enough time for Cooney to get enough exposure to break camp with the Cardinals, meaning he could be a Memphis rotation member to start the year. Even so, his profile as a control pitcher compliments a high-firepower St. Louis bullpen, and he will likely see work in the majors again in 2015. Add to that a professed desire from the Cardinals to protect young arms Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, and Cooney could find his way to few spot starts as well.