Michael Wacha 'felt great' throwing off mound for first time since injury

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Michael Wacha took a step towards returning to the Cardinals' rotation on Saturday.
Michael Wacha took a step towards returning to the Cardinals' rotation on Saturday. (USATSI)

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For the first time since suffering a stress fracture in his shoulder back in June, Michael Wacha threw off a mound on Saturday, reports Rick Hummel of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch. He threw 30 pitches at less than 100 percent effort in the bullpen.

Here's what Wacha had to say about the throwing session, courtesy of Hummel:

“It felt good to get back out there on the mound,” he said. “Arm felt great. It was 30 pitches. Pretty light throws but I'm happy with it.

“It's always good to get a new milestone. It's one of those deals (that) whenever you're cleared to throw, it's a big day for you. Whenever you're cleared to get your first (bull)pen in, it's a big day. I know it's still a long road to go.”

Wacha said he threw 25 fastballs and five changeups. The team will see how he feels the next few days before allowing him to throw again. “I'd imagine I'd be back on the mound in two to three days,” he said.

The Cardinals have been sending Wacha for bi-monthly MRI exams on the shoulder -- “I guess they'll compare it to the other pictures, to see if it's still healing, (or) if it's getting worse" -- to monitor his progress.

If all goes well, Wacha could return to the rotation sometime in September. The minor league season ends in about two weeks, so squeezing in some rehab starts might be tricky. Of course, Wacha is still a ways away from pitching in games.

Wacha, 23, went 5-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 15 starts and 90 1/3 innings before getting hurt this year. He went 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 64 2/3 innings across nine starts and six relief appearances as a rookie last summer.

St. Louis is also without Jaime Garcia (shoulder). They acquired veterans Justin Masterson and John Lackey at the trade deadline to help cover for their rotation injuries.

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