Cooney gets another start as Garcia improves

Cooney gets another start as Garcia improves

ST. LOUIS -- Left-hander Tim Cooney will start on Sunday as Jaime Garcia continues to work his way back from a groin injury, manager Mike Matheny announced on Friday.

The decision to go with Cooney means that Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha are set to start against the White Sox in Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Garcia, meanwhile, is optimistic about his rehab, and the Cardinals have not ruled out the possibility that he will make a Major League start before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, which approaches with Garcia's health -- and, subsequently, his spot in the rotation -- uncertain.

"A lot of it is going to hinge on how he feels," Matheny said. "I think we see this recent injury as one of those fluke ones, and it doesn't necessarily line up with some of the things he's had in the past. His arm seems to be holding up well. He's pretty optimistic that once he gets past this issue, it's going to be something he's going to be able to finish strong with."

Garcia sustained the injury running the bases on June 24, and Cooney has pieced together three serviceable starts since then. Another rotation option, 23-year-old Marco Gonzales, started for Double-A Springfield on Friday night and is expected to be ready to pitch in St. Louis by the end of the month, general manager John Mozeliak said.

The team has also expressed a desire to limit the innings of Wacha and Martinez as the season wears on.

"Obviously, when you look at going out and getting a starter, who's he going to replace?" Mozeliak said. "You look at our current four, with Cooney, they've all done a nice job. For us just to say we're out on the market looking for a starting pitcher, I don't think that's fair."

Garcia's seven outings this season have all resulted in quality starts, and he appeared capable of capping off a rotation that has been the best in baseball until his latest setback.

Asked if he thinks he could start next week, Garcia responded optimistically.

"That would be awesome," Garcia said. "Obviously, I'm very positive about how things are feeling, and for me, the sooner the better, but we have got to make sure we get it out of the way or this could become an issue again."

David Cobb is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.