JUPITER, Fla. -- After a series of encouraging offseason updates, the Cardinals will get their first look at Jordan Walden on Friday, when the reliever takes the mound for a bullpen session.
It will mark the seventh time Walden has thrown off the mound since completing a rigorous rehab program near his Texas home in an effort to return from a right rotator cuff injury that didn't require surgery. He described his shoulder as "feeling good" and his planned Spring Training program as "normal." But no one truly knows how Walden's shoulder will respond until he clears various benchmarks ahead.
"I think given how hard he worked this offseason from a therapy standpoint, now it's about throwing that ball in front of his coaches and see how it reacts," general manager John Mozeliak said. "He feels like he's in a good spot, so if he's asymptomatic, let him go."
Walden made 12 appearances last April before being sidelined with what was then described as forearm tightness. Walden rested for two months before his rehab stint in July ended with him shut down for the season.
In hindsight, Walden said on Thursday, he pushed himself back onto the mound too soon last summer.
"I wish I would have rehabbed a little better," Walden said.
Since then, Walden's focus has been to build up strength around his rotator cuff. He did so this winter through two-hour therapy and rehab sessions, five days a week. Walden rehabbed alongside other Major Leaguers, including former Cardinals teammate Matt Belisle.
"My shoulder is way stronger than it was last year," Walden said. "Now we just have to see if it will hold up all year and the rest of my career. I feel good, and the ball is coming out good. I just have to stay on it and keep it where it's at."
• All of the pitchers and catchers participating in Major League camp reported by Thursday except right-hander Robby Rowland, who underwent a cleanup procedure to remove bone spurs and loose bodies around his right elbow earlier this week. Rowland, a non-roster invitee, is expected to spend the next six weeks in therapy before coming to Jupiter to begin a rehab program.