Michael Wacha had a pain-free light throwing session Tuesday, a key step as the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander works his way back from a stress reaction in his right shoulder that has sidelined him since mid-June.
"I don't feel any pain in the shoulder or anything like that," Wacha told reporters, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It definitely feels strong. It feels alive, really."
On Monday, the Cardinals' training staff cleared Wacha to resume throwing. Until then, he had been working to strengthen his legs and torso, with the goal being to lessen the strain on the shoulder area going forward -- a program the 23-year-old said he'll do "for the rest of my career."
"It's definitely been tough, hopefully, getting some good results in the MRIs [every two weeks]," Wacha said. "It's given me time to get stronger in places that I need to get strong. Hopefully that will help whenever I come back. ... Try to prevent it from happening again."
St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak says the team is optimistic Wacha can return to the rotation this season.
"It's really an ongoing process," Mozeliak told reporters, according to the Post-Dispatch, which said the Cardinals are targeting a mid-September return for Wacha. "It's one he's been working on -- his lower half, to strengthen and take some stress off his upper body. For the last six weeks, that's exactly what he's been doing. I feel really encouraged with where he's at that way. So I think from a pure physical standpoint he's probably as strong as he's ever been. ... There is a lot of optimism in that camp."
Wacha, who helped key the Cardinals' run to the World Series in 2013, is 5-5 with a 2.79 ERA this season.