JUPITER, Fla. • Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia is unlikely to be available for the rotation at the start of the season after renewed discomfort in his shoulder, the team announced Saturday morning.
Garcia will return to St. Louis on Sunday for evaluation.
The lefty was able to get through all of his scheduled bullpens until Sunday, when the team had to cancel his planned throw. After his previous bullpen, Garcia expressed concern about soreness and discomfort in his left shoulder — the joint surgically repaired in the middle of last season.
"His shoulder is just not feeling quite right," general manager John Mozeliak said. "We should have an answer of what the future looks like by Monday afternoon. He hasn't felt right the last 48 hours. No one thought it was that serious, but it's not improving. There's no reason to work through something if it might be something larger.
"It's better to get resolution."
Mozeliak agreed that even the concern likely erases the chance Garcia would be ready to open the season in the rotation. He wouldn't be available to face hitters, let alone pitch in games later this week when Grapefruit League play begins.
Garcia will have an MRI. He will meet with the surgeon who performed the operation on his shoulder.
The Cardinals had positioned Garcia as a member of the rotation — if he proved health and strength during this spring training. He and six other pitchers are competing for the four spots after Adam Wainwright. Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller are the incumbents and favorites for two of the spots. Michael Wacha is an obvious leading contender for what he did in October.
Garcia's injury opens the way for Joe Kelly and perhaps Carlos Martinez to win spots behind those four pitchers.
Kelly finished the World Series in the rotation.
The Cardinals were made aware of the soreness within the past few days, and it has not been something Garcia mentioned earlier in camp.
"We'll see," manager Mike Matheny said. "We may get some good news coming back and we'll just keep rolling. ... We'll have some tests to put all the pieces together."
Garcia had a tear in his labrum repaired last season, and he also had damage to his rotator cuff addressed. He had pitched the previous two seasons with shoulder pain. He was able to throw this winter without pain and arrived in camp ready to be on what he and the Cardinals called a "normal schedule." He would have faced hitters in his next appearance, one turn behind the other starters.
To help cover the open innings, the Cardinals moved two minor-league pitchers into major-league camp: righties Boone Whiting and Kurt Heyer will be added as non-roster invites. They had been scheduled to join the team's early program.
This story will be updated throughout the day here in the Cardinal Beat blog.