As much as he’s eager to face hitters without pain, without having to improvise an arm slot or wish for movement on a pitch, Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia will return to the mound this week with something else besides a healthy shoulder.

He spent a couple of seasons learning how to compete without one.

“I’ve learned just as much from bad things, the injuries, just as I have from the good things,” Garcia said in the Cardinals’ clubhouse Monday. “The last two years have been tough, real tough. My shoulder wasn’t right. The thing was I was still able to do sometimes was to go out there and focus on getting it done. There are no excuses once you’re on the mound. You’ve decided to take the ball that day and you find a way.”

Garcia played a light game of catch Monday as unofficial workouts continued for a handful of Cardinals who have reported early to the team’s facility at Roger Dean Stadium. Michael Wacha, the National League championship series MVP, arrived, and several pitchers, including Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn, got on the mound to throw a side session. The club’s first official workout of spring training is Thursday, and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said 13 pitchers will take the mound for bullpen throws that day.

The rest, except for reliever Jason Motte, will throw Friday.

Garcia will be one.

The lefty, who won 13 games in back-to-back seasons and finished third in 2010’s NL rookie of the year voting, had his season ended last May by shoulder surgery that was a couple of years in the making. Garcia pitched through the injury in 2012, and he reported to spring training a year ago having attempted a non-surgical rehab for the joint. In May, he relented and had a tear of his labrum repaired. He was throwing off the mound by the end of the season, and he’ll start spring training this week on the same schedule as the other starters, unless his shoulder does not respond to its first test Friday.