ST. LOUIS -- Left-hander Marco Gonzales, the Cardinals' top-ranked pitching prospect per MLBPipeline.com, received encouraging news on Tuesday when, after traveling to St. Louis, had an MRI that revealed no structural damage in his left shoulder.
He was diagnosed with an impingement, which the medical staff will address by having Gonzales begin an exercise program designed to strengthen the area around his shoulder. Gonzales, who will receive a cortisone shot to calm some of the irritation in the area, is expected to be re-evaluated in about 10 days to determine if he can resume throwing.
"I think it's very good news because this is something that can be managed," general manager John Mozeliak said. "There are probably a few things that he needs to start doing in his daily routine to get him through this, and we'll make sure that he understands that and is compliant with that."
Gonzales missed about three weeks earlier this season after alerting the Triple-A staff to discomfort around his left pectoral muscle. He returned to the mound May 10 and made three starts before the issue resurfaced during a long-toss session on Saturday. The Cardinals are hopeful Gonzales' absence this time will also span about three weeks.
Key to that will be Gonzales' diligence in complying with a strengthening program, something that he has never had to seriously prescribe to in the past. Mozeliak said he's hopeful Gonzales will stay in St. Louis for some time to begin that work under the supervision of the Major League medical staff.
"As you start to get older and with the demands of pitching every day, there are certain things you are required to do," Mozeliak said. "I think some of that was not being done, and now he will understand that and be compliant moving forward."
What this does in the short term, however, is further thin the Cardinals' pitching depth. Gonzales was viewed as next in line should the Cardinals have a need in their big league rotation. The options behind him right now are underwhelming, as neither Tim Cooney nor Tyler Lyons could seize the Major League opportunities they were given earlier this season.
But as long as the Cardinals' rotation doesn't fracture over the next few weeks, Gonzales should be back in the mix soon. Meanwhile, the Cardinals continue to have their pulse on starting pitching that may be available externally as they look for ways to strengthen what is already in place.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.