St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia is headed back to St. Louis on Sunday to have his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder examined, meaning he is not expected to be ready for the start of the season.
Garcia had season-ending surgery last year after experiencing shoulder pain. He was throwing at the team's spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla., until pain returned in the last couple of days.
"He just hadn't quite felt right for the last 48 hours," general manager John Mozeliak said. "From a medical standpoint, no one thought it was that serious. But it wasn't improving and given how early it is in camp, there's no reason to try to work through something if it might be something larger. We think it is better to get some resolution and have him seen back in St. Louis."
Garcia, 27, was considered the favorite to be the Cardinals' No. 5 starter. He is the only left-hander in the rotation.
Garcia went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA last year. He won a career-high 13 games in 2010 and 2011.
"Any time a pitcher that has thrown as much as he has experiences shoulder pain, goes in and gets a cleanup, it's not too hard to imagine that there could be still an uphill battle," Mozeliak said.
Mozeliak hopes to learn more about Garcia's status on Monday.
While Garcia is out, right-handers Carlos Martinez and Joe Kelly are the likely candidates to replace him. If the Cardinals prefer a left-hander, they could go with Tyler Lyons.
"I don't think it's any secret to anybody that having that solid left-hander seems to add a different component to an offense that might be locked in against some righties," manager Mike Matheny said.