As elated as he was during his first throw for Cardinals major-league coaches in two years, prospect Jordan Swagerty said the final thrill came when he was done.

“To feel healthy at the end of the bullpen is the bonus,” he said.

Swagerty, 24, has spent the past two years recovering from elbow surgery that interrupted his past chance to make a first impression. A second-round selection in 2010, Swagerty came to spring training in 2012 set to show his up-tempo fastball, sharp breaking ball and potential readiness to pitch that summer in the majors. He had soared through three levels the previous summer, his first in the pros, and he was considered a harbinger of the power arms to come.

He was the prospect in front of Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, and Joe Kelly — all pitchers who have leapfrogged him and impacted the majors while he nursed an uncooperative right elbow. A nonroster invitation to major-league camp this spring is his reset.

“I think it’s just something that he’s earned over the year,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Not that long ago he was ahead of quite a few guys on our staff. It’s not that you have an injury and you throw him to the back of the bus. He’s still in our mind the guy with a lot of potential, and those setbacks don’t change that. It just changes the timing.”

Swagerty had Tommy John surgery in 2012 performed by the late Dr. Lewis Yocum. He also had bone spurs removed from the back of his elbow. The Cardinals and Yocum’s office attempted to meld their rehab programs for Swagerty, but his was complicated by pain in the back of his elbow and then soreness in the transplanted ligament. Eighteen months after surgery, he appeared in a rehab game – only to have nerve trouble in his forearm flare.

The righty said he was unable at times to throw a series of breaking pitches because of soreness in his arm. His bullpen sessions then were a race against pain, moving from pitch to pitch to avoid it. He had no issue unleashing his above-average fastball, changeup, and breaking ball on Friday. After his final throw came the final validation he sought.

Not only is he back in camp, he back on track.

Said Swagerty, “It’s fun to be healthy for once.”