Rehabbing Walden still eyeing September return

Rehabbing Walden still eyeing September return

ST. LOUIS -- Jordan Walden is back in St. Louis for what he hopes will not be a final visit this season. That will depend upon how the rehab work continues to go for the righty reliever, who has been sidelined since Spring Training with a right shoulder strain.

Walden threw a bullpen session, his fifth since getting clearance to return to the mound, at Busch Stadium on Friday and said he continues to eye a September return. If all continues to progress, Walden noted, he could have time to participate in a rehab assignment before the Minor League season ends. He hasn't thrown a pitch in the Majors since April 2015.

"I finally have some hope," Walden said. "I threw a good bullpen [session] this past Friday and that kind of gave me a boost of confidence. It's been a long road with a lot of ups and downs. I think I'm going in the right direction."

General manager John Mozeliak, who has seen Walden endure a series of setbacks since the Cardinals acquired him in a November 2014 trade with the Braves, was more reserved in his expectations.

"I think it would be a stroke of luck if he actually does [pitch this year]," Mozeliak said. "I briefly met with him when he got in today, and he said he's making steps toward pitching. But he says he's not to the point yet where he's at full strength or he's ready to go back-to-back [days off the mound]."

Walden has spent the season at his Dallas-area home, choosing to rehab there under the watch of a personal doctor and then traveling to check in with the Cardinals once he felt he had made significant progress. Over the last several months, Walden has taken a platelet-rich plasma injection in his shoulder to help address a rotator cuff injury, and he has let a tear in his latissimi dorsi muscle heal.

"[I want to] prove to myself that I can pitch still," Walden said. "You don't want to go out not being able to pitch in a game. Being that my last game was in spring, I have to get back in a real game."

Worth noting

• Mozeliak estimated that lefty Tyler Lyons, who went on the disabled list Wednesday with a right knee stress reaction, will need at least four weeks to heal.

Aledmys Diaz is expected to begin working out at the team's Jupiter, Fla., complex next week. Diaz landed on the DL this week after fracturing his right thumb. The Cardinals are hopeful to have the rookie shortstop back around the start of September.

Trevor Rosenthal, who received a platelet-rich plasma injection on Tuesday, is expected to begin a throwing program early next week. Right shoulder inflammation landed Rosenthal on the DL on July 26.

Brayan Pena continues to catch side sessions in Jupiter and recently received a cortisone injection to try to expedite healing in his left knee.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.