There is the possibility, Mozeliak added, that the Cardinals will still remove Cruz from the DL before he is actually cleared to play. With rosters expanding in September, the Cardinals could activate Cruz without having to send anyone else out.
While Cruz waits for clearance to begin swinging, Jaime Garcia began his throwing program on Monday, three months after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder to repair a labrum tear.
Garcia threw for the first time post-surgery on Monday. He estimated that he threw about 30 pitches from a flat-ground distance that varied between 45-60 feet. The lefty said that his arm responded well to the exercise and that he expects to throw every other day for at least the next week.
"Obviously, I'm super-excited and everything, but at the same time, it's something that takes time," Garcia said. "You've got to basically take one day at a time and see how it's going. ... I'm in a good place right now, and I'll just keep working hard and keep a good mentality and see what happens. There will be bumps in the road, but it was a good first day of playing catch, and we'll take it one day at a time."
The Cardinals have a program blueprint for Garcia to follow as he rebuilds arm strength, though the timing of each successive step will be determined primarily by how Garcia's arm responds. The Cardinals expect Garcia to be healthy enough to handle a full offseason throwing program. That would allow Garcia to report to Spring Training without any limitation.
"Obviously, any time you're coming off surgery and you're progressing like he is, to get that first initial step of that throwing program, I think, is great news," Mozeliak said. "And more importantly, just how he has been responding is real encouraging. The medical staff really believes that he'll be somebody who is ready to have a normal offseason, and we're looking forward to seeing him next spring."
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.