Garcia 'encouraged' by first camp bullpen session

Working way back from shoulder injury, Cards lefty won't be limited this spring

JUPITER, Fla. -- Jaime Garcia, whose 2012 season was dotted with shoulder problems, garnered a substantial amount of attention on Tuesday when he took the mound for a bullpen session as part of the Cardinals' first official workout. Of interest, of course, is the health of the team's only left-handed starter.

For Garcia, though, he's well past such point of concern.

Garcia estimated that Tuesday's side session was his seventh or eighth already this spring. He got a head start on the work back in Texas, where he spent the winter rehabbing from a season-ending left shoulder injury.

That rehab process, Garcia reported, went seamlessly, and the mound work Garcia has completed in recent weeks has followed suit.

"I'm really encouraged," Garcia said. "I've been saying this the whole time. I'm feeling strong and healthy. Everything went this offseason as good as it could have gone. I'm at a point where I worked so hard this offseason, and I'm working hard right now and just taking it one day at a time."

The Cardinals do not have plans to limit Garcia's spring workload, nor is he on a different program than the one he has followed in the past. Garcia said he does not have any medical checkups scheduled, an indication that everyone is pleased with how his shoulder has responded.

Garcia went 7-7 with a 3.92 ERA in 20 starts last year, but his season was interrupted and then ended with shoulder problems. He spent seven weeks on the disabled list with a shoulder strain during the summer. After an abbreviated postseason start in which he felt additional shoulder discomfort, Garcia was removed from the playoff roster.

"It was one of the toughest things I've had to experience in my career," Garcia said. "But you move forward. You learn from the bad. You take good things out of everything. I want to do my work and see where it goes. As far as I can tell, everything is good and healthy and strong."