ST. LOUIS -- As long as nothing goes awry during his scheduled bullpen session at Busch Stadium on Thursday, Jaime Garcia is expected to come off the disabled list and start against the Braves on Sunday afternoon.
Garcia returned to St. Louis on Wednesday and planned to throw off the mound later in the day in preparation for a Saturday start. A rainout foiled those plans, though manager Mike Matheny said after the postponement was announced that the Cardinals will still start Garcia over the weekend.
The club could have skipped the fifth spot in the rotation and had Garcia pitch once more with Triple-A Memphis. Instead, the Cardinals will take the opportunity to get each of their rotation members an extra day of rest.
It has been nearly a year since Garcia underwent season-ending shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. A Spring Training setback due to inflammation stalled Garcia's throwing program and cost the left-hander an opportunity to open the season in the rotation. He stayed behind in Florida to build up arm strength and then made a pair of May appearances as a part of a rehab assignment.
His first one, with Double-A Springfield, lasted two innings because he was hit by a pitch on his left elbow. On Monday, Garcia threw five innings (74 pitches) for Triple-A Memphis.
"I'm at a point where I can compete and I can go out there and do what is asked of me to do," Garcia said Wednesday. "Obviously, you don't have it all figured out, but you go out there and can think about pitching and getting hitters out, not just how bad your shoulder is going to hurt. I'm here. I've got to get ready for [Sunday]. I'm really excited to be here. I was really anxious to get with this team."
The Cardinals had initially planned to have Garcia pitch once more with Memphis before moving him back into the rotation. Those plans needed to be tweaked, however, after Tyler Lyons' shoulder injury created an immediate starting vacancy. The Cardinals were comfortable turning to Garcia so soon, too, based on how well he pitched Monday.
"Velocity looks normal," Matheny said. "Movement is very good. And secondary stuff looks right. All things are pointed in a good direction."
Because he is not fully stretched out, Garcia will have a pitch count limit of about 90-95 in this weekend's start.
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.