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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cardinals' Jason Motte is unlikely to be ready by opening day

By on 2/26/2014 09:00:00 AM

The defending National League champion St. Louis Cardinals entered Spring Training with two question marks in their pitching staff.  The Cardinals are down starter Jaime Garcia, who is not expected to be ready for opening day.  It also appears that reliever Jason Motte, who led the National League in saves in 2012, also doesn't appear to be ready for opening day as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery.

John Max Men via Wikimedia Commons

As reported by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,  Motte had Tommy John surgery in May to repair a ruptured ligament in his right elbow.  Generally it takes about a full year before a pitcher to return to Major-League action.  Motte is 9 1/2 months removed from surgery and it's possible he could return before the full year, as relievers and position players tend to recover a bit quicker.  But a setback before camp started caused Motte to be a bit behind schedule. Motte still feels that he could possibly be ready sometime in April.

"Even if I’m throwing bullpens at the end of March and I’m firing balls in there that’s great but it’s still not the same as getting in a game with that intensity, that adrenaline. So you don’t want to go straight from there to the big-league ballgame without facing hitters or doing anything back-to-back. April may be a possibility, I don’t know."
Motte continues to progress, as he completed a bullpen session on Tuesday throwing at about 50 to 60 percent of full capacity. He plans on increasing the workload and add more pitches later in the week.  The Cardinals want Motte ready as soon as possible, but don't want to cross the fine line between increasing his intensity to getting him ready and pushing too far and causing a setback. Team officials have noted that Motte's schedule could be revamped should he show significant advancement in his rehab, which may enable him to be ready for opening day.

Motte was drafted by the Cardinals in 2003 and has pitched for the Cardinals since 2006.  Motte was primarily a setup man in 2010 and 2011 before become the Cardinals' closer the following season.  He went 4-5 with 42 saves and a 2.75 ERA in 2012. In 72 innings, he allowed only 49 hits and struck out 86.  In 282 career games, Motte is 17-12 with a 2.87 ERA.


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