Cards encouraged by improvement in Garcia's elbow

Cards encouraged by improvement in Garcia's elbow

ATLANTA -- Encouraged by how much the swelling around Jaime Garcia's left elbow had subsided in 24 hours, the Cardinals are optimistic that the lefty will not have his next scheduled Minor League rehab start pushed back but a few days.

Garcia took a pitch off his elbow while batting in the second inning of Double-A Springfield's game on Sunday. The plunking forced him out of the game at 28 pitches -- the Cardinals had targeted him for about 80 -- and left the organization concerned about the potential for a serious setback in Garcia's attempt to return from shoulder inflammation.

Garcia returned to St. Louis, where the Cardinals' medical staff examined him and deemed it unnecessary for Garcia to undergo an MRI. General manager John Mozeliak said he's hopeful Garcia will resume throwing off the mound as early as Tuesday.

"Overall, we were quite encouraged about where he is," Mozeliak said. "He may just need a couple days. We'll know for sure in the next 48 hours what his next start will look like. But we're hopeful that maybe by Sunday or Monday he can be in a game."

Garcia's next start had been scheduled for Friday, so that would not be too significant a delay. Mozeliak added that Garcia would likely still have the arm strength to aim for that pitch count of 80 his next time out. The start may not necessarily come with the Double-A club.

Before leaving Sunday's start, Garcia allowed a two-run homer, walked one and struck out two.

"Other than that one mistake, everybody felt he had a lot of life on his ball and looked good," Mozeliak said. "They were very encouraged. It's unfortunate. Everything was going so well for him and then to get injured while hitting is something that is the least of your worries. But now I know why you worry about it."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.