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No structural damage with Garcia's left shoulder

JUPITER, Fla. -- Left-hander Jaime Garcia received a cortisone injection in his left shoulder on Wednesday after it was determined that he is dealing with inflammation in that area. Both George Paletta, the Cardinals' team physician, and orthopedist James Andrews saw no structural damage with Garcia's surgically repaired shoulder.

"I think it's good news," general manager John Mozeliak said after hearing the report from Andrews. "We were certainly hopeful that it was not going to be something where he had to have surgery. This is certainly better than what it could have been, yes."

Garcia will return to the Cardinals' Spring Training site in Jupiter on Thursday, and the Cardinals will monitor his progress before deciding when to have Garcia restart his throwing program. Though the Cardinals are still hopeful that Garcia will be a key contributor in 2014, the expectation is that he will not be ready for the rotation by Opening Day.

It has already been more than a week since Garcia last threw off the mound.

"I think the way to look at it is really day-to-day at this point and just see where he ends up," Mozeliak said. "I would imagine it would be difficult at this moment just given the fact that he is behind. But in fairness, I think we should let the next few days or weeks unfold."

When asked if Garcia could shift to a relief role, Mozeliak said that he was not yet sure whether that would be an ideal role for the lefty. While the workload would decrease, Garcia would have to condition his shoulder to pitch on consecutive days. Garcia has not pitched in relief since 2008.

Whatever the role and whenever it is that Garcia returns to the mound, he'll be dealing with a new normal. It is not uncommon for pitchers who undergo shoulder surgery -- as Garcia did in May 2013 to address a torn rotator cuff and labrum -- to feel differently upon returning.

Said Mozeliak: "I think the days of feeling perfect are over."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
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