Jaime Garcia expects to begin rehab assignment this week

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Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia told Jim Hayes of FOX Sports Midwest on Sunday that he expects to begin a minor league rehab assignment later this week. It seems possible that he would only require one start before returning to the St. Louis rotation.

Garcia has been on the disabled list since late June because of a left groin strain. He threw a bullpen session without issue Saturday at Busch Stadium and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny noted afterward that Garcia “had a little hop in his step.”

Garcia owns a stellar 1.69 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 48 innings (seven starts) this season, but injuries have been a constant speed bump for him over the last three years. He holds an $11.5 million option for 2016 and a $12 million option for 2017, so these next few months will be hugely important to the 29-year-old’s future.

Tim Cooney has been filling in as the fifth starter for the MLB-leading Cardinals.