Wacha Optimistic About the Unknown

(Busch Stadium) Looking at the situation through a positive lens, Michael Wacha could begin a throwing program soon with hopes of returning to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016.

“Hopefully sometime this weekend or starting next week,” said Wacha, who has been on the disabled list since August 9th with shoulder inflammation that includes a recurrence of stress issues in his scapula.

“Definitely doing some rehab stuff,” he furthered. “Just stay on top of it but it has been a lot of resting that bone back there and letting it heal up. Starting to work in some shoulder exercises to build that back up to get strong enough to play some catch.”

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee BrewersAnd while Wacha is “very confident” that he will be able to pitch again in 2016, there is not the same emotion regarding a solution to the root cause of his condition.

“It’s unknown, for sure,” said Wacha. “Nobody knows much about it–how to prevent it, how to keep it from coming back or anything like that. I’m just going to keep working my tail off and try to get it strong back there so I guess it can hold it in place and keep it strong, keep it stable. It’s just going to be something constant that I hopefully don’t have to deal with, but it’s something that I’m going to have to overcome for sure.”

“He will be re-imaged again first part of September and then that will determine if he can push forward,” explained General Manager John Mozeliak on Tuesday.

Wacha and his agent have spoken with Brandon McCarthy about this issue as the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher has had the same scapular issue occur six different times in his career.

“One year it just never came back, he threw 200 innings and has felt good ever since,” said Wacha. “There’s definitely some optimistic looking forward there.”

In addition to exploring mechanical changes and his offseason routine, Wacha has also recently undergone testing to see if this is a bone density or genetic condition.

“We did all these scans and they’re getting tested right now,” he said. “This past week, I did these tests and they’ve got them all sent out.”

The Cardinals and Wacha have not yet had a conversation about him pitching out of the bullpen if he is able to return this season, but the right-hander has no objections to the idea.

“I’m up for anything,” he said. “I just want to get back and help this team as much as I can.”

“I think it would be hard to ramp him up given what we know as the likelihood of sometime in late September,” said Mozeliak. “Now we could create some innings down in Instructional League, but I think that would be difficult.”

“I think the biggest thing for him is having the confidence to know that this is something that’s not going to be every year for him,” said Mozeliak. “I think everybody on the medical staff and he included, feel like they have a good game plan. Whether you can really tap into that in the next four to six weeks to get him to pitch again, I don’t think is fair. But I think the strategy for the offseason will be good for him.”

photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI, Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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