Garcia ready, but when will Cards bring him back?

Garcia ready, but when will Cards bring him back?

ST. LOUIS -- A day after throwing the first five innings in low Class A Peoria's combined no-hitter, lefty Jaime Garcia returned to Busch Stadium encouraged by how his arm felt and hopeful that his next start will come as a member of the Cardinals' rotation. In regards to the latter, general manager John Mozeliak said the organization is still working through that decision.

Garcia threw 58 pitches on Thursday as he returned to the mound for the first time since suffering a left groin strain on June 24. He struck out six and allowed only one baserunner.

"At first, I was falling behind a couple guys there, but it got better as I went on," Garcia said. "I was able to throw some good sinkers and good changeups in the strike zone. .... I take a lot of good things out of it."

Garcia was also forced to cover first base on a third-inning play, which he said he did without feeling any groin discomfort.

Mozeliak said the Cardinals' decision about when to insert Garcia back into the rotation won't hinge on Tim Cooney's performance Friday, though it's likely that Garcia would take Cooney's spot when ready. In seven starts this season, Garcia has a 1.69 ERA.

If the Cardinals want to give Garcia one additional rehab start, it would allow him to further build up his arm strength.

"Obviously, getting one more start [in the Minors] would probably be OK," Garcia said. "But I feel I'm at a point right now where I'm ready to compete. I want to help, and I want to be out there so badly that I feel like I'm ready to go out there and give us a chance to win."

Garcia isn't the only rehabbing pitcher with a strong chance to return this homestand. Jordan Walden, too, reported to Busch Stadium on Friday after throwing a scoreless inning for Double-A Springfield on Wednesday. Walden struck out one and worked around a leadoff double in his first rehab-assignment outing.

Walden will return to Springfield on Saturday to pitch another inning, and then if all goes well, he'll be transferred to Triple-A Memphis to throw on back-to-back days.

"Everything went well," Walden said. "I tested my slider and it was good. I got out of [a jam]. Just trying to see how I feel after I play catch right now."

WORTH NOTING

Jon Jay (left wrist stress reaction) has still not resumed swinging a bat. Jay, who was placed on the disabled list on July 1, said he does not have a timetable for when he might try to do so again.

• Manager Mike Matheny said Stephen Piscotty's stiff neck "cleared up," but Matheny went with Mark Reynolds at first base instead of Piscotty on Friday. Piscotty did spend part of batting practice working at first base with infield coach Jose Oquendo.

• Matheny said that the running limitations the Cardinals gave Matt Holliday "are coming to an end." Since coming off the DL a week ago, Holliday has been told not to push himself running the bases and playing left field.

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.