ST. LOUIS -- With approval from the medical staff after they read the results of Monday's MRI exam, Michael Wacha plans to increase his strength exercises over the next two weeks with the hope that he'll then be cleared to begin a throwing program.
If all goes as the Cardinals hope, Wacha will resume throwing during the first full week of August, which would then put him on schedule to return to the Cards' rotation in early September. Wacha, who last pitched on June 17, has been nursing a stress reaction in his right shoulder.
"There were times where there was talk I might not even be able to come back," Wacha said on Tuesday. "I'm just trying to keep a positive mind about it. The whole plan is to get healthy and help this team make the playoffs. That's the goal right now, and I'm working as hard as I can to get healthy and make an impact whenever I get back."
The rehab program would first include a buildup of arm strength, after which Wacha could condition his arm by making a few Minor League starts. The Cardinals have scheduled an MRI for Aug. 4, at which time they will want to see further evidence of healing before giving Wacha the green light to throw.
Wacha said he didn't even need confirmation from an MRI to know that his shoulder was improving.
"I don't feel [tightness] now," Wacha said. "There were times that I could feel it just around the house doing casual things. But that's all gone for sure."