Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden has a few regrets

Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden is hoping to return to full strength in 2016 after throwing just 10 1/3 innings in 2015 due to a shoulder injury. Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

JUPITER, Fla. -- St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden looks back on a 2015 season almost entirely wiped out by a shoulder injury and wonders whether he got the right diagnosis the first time around.

“I wish I would have rehabbed it a little better,” Walden said. “I wish I would have seen a different doctor right away.”

Walden feels Cardinals physicians missed the root cause of the soreness under his right arm -- a weakened rotator cuff -- and thus didn’t prescribe the right path to full recovery. Walden, one of the game’s hardest-throwing relievers, tried to return in July but had to abort his minor-league rehab assignment. Part of the trade with the Atlanta Braves that brought Jason Heyward to St. Louis, Walden managed just 10 1/3 innings in 2015, all in April.

After rehabbing back home in Texas all winter, getting private physical therapy five days a week, Walden is hopeful he can contribute quality innings to a strong Cardinals bullpen this season. He already has thrown six bullpen sessions and said the shoulder has held up fine thus far.

“The shoulder’s stronger than it was last year,” Walden said. “Now we’ve just got to see if it holds up all year and holds up the rest of my career.”

In November 2014, Walden and Heyward were traded to St. Louis in exchange for pitcher Shelby Miller and minor-leaguer Tyrell Jenkins.