JUPITER, Fla. -- Six days after undergoing season-ending elbow surgery, shortstop Rafael Furcal returned to the Cardinals' spring complex to visit with teammates on Tuesday.
Furcal, his right arm nestled in a sling, referred to the surgery as successful and noted that Dr. James Andrews found more ligament damage than expected during the procedure. Furcal will not be able to throw or hit for at least four months, he said, but may wait even longer to ensure that his elbow is completely healed.
That's because he doesn't want to jeopardize his chances of being ready to play in 2014.
"I'm going to try to come back," Furcal said. "If my arm feels good, I know my body is going to feel fine because I'll do the same stuff I did in the offseason. This was one of the years my body was in better shape. I felt like I was going to steal 30 bases again because I spent three months working hard."
If all goes as expected, Furcal intends to play winter ball in the Dominican League. Not only will that help him get back into playing shape, but it will allow teams to get a look at what he still has left. Furcal will be 36 by the time he becomes a free agent next winter.
"They know me and they know when I'm healthy what I can do," Furcal said, referring to other clubs. "It's not a surprise. My mind right now is to try to get a good rehab. That's my main thing. I'll get in shape and see what happens. I don't have control."
Furcal said he will do the majority of his rehab work in Miami, where he makes his home. He added that he plans to return to St. Louis during some homestands. The Cardinals would welcome Furcal's presence as often as they can have it.
"He's walking energy," manager Mike Matheny said. "He just walks in and you hear the room explode with different things. He's starts yelling things that we can't hardly understand. He's just life. There's just some people here who can't hide how much they love showing up. Raffy has always been one of those guys who loves what he does. You can't have too many of those guys around."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.