Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Motte Likely to Open Season on DL

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Motte Likely to Open Season on DL

Article excerpt

JUPITER, Fla. Two months to the day after the Cardinals signed closer Jason Motte to a two-year deal and deeded him the ninth inning, the club learned it would start the season without him.

Motte felt a bite in his right elbow after pitching Thursday and was diagnosed with a strain of the flexor tendon, an injury that will keep him out indefinitely. The club Saturday classified the injury as a "mild" tear or stretching of the tendon. Further examination of the joint in the coming days will determine the precise severity as the club did not have a timetable for Motte's rehab and what point he could try throwing again.

"Right now it's going to slow him down, but we're certainly going to be as aggressive as we can with the rehab," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Fingers were crossed it wouldn't be something that lands him on the (disabled list), but it likely will."

With Motte expected to be on the 15-day disabled list when the Cardinals open the season April 1 in Arizona, setup reliever Mitchell Boggs will inherit the ninth. Boggs set a franchise record for holds last season while pitching primarily in the eighth inning and manager Mike Matheny said the righty is "the natural movement."

Motte's absence also answers the last of the questions remaining for the Cardinals' opening day roster. Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly are expected to conclude their duel for the open spot as soon as Monday, and instead of one passed over for that spot sliding into a competition with Fernando Salas for a bullpen job there is room for all three pitchers. Rookie Trevor Rosenthal is likely to move into Boggs' role as the setup righty, with Edward Mujica continuing to handle the seventh inning when the Cardinals have a lead.

The Cardinals entered spring training encouraged by the depth on their roster and they are one week away from leaving spring having already tested it. Motte is the third key contributor to sustain an arm injury this spring, following veteran ace Chris Carpenter (shoulder, nerve) and shortstop Rafael Furcal (elbow surgery), both former All-Stars.

"If you're going to talk about it, it better be there, right? Here we go," Matheny said. "All of us know this team is not and never claimed to be immune to the adversity and challenges that come with injury. When that happens, someone else steps up. Our guys are ready for that."

Motte pitched a scoreless inning against the Mets on Thursday in Port St. Lucie, Fla. His last pitch zipped at 97 mph, and he was able to complete his post-appearance work without any discomfort or hints of trouble. On the bus ride back to Jupiter, he felt his arm tighten up and the elbow seized when he tried to extend his arm to set his phone down. The Cardinals sent Motte for an MRI scan on Friday, and the results of it were read by the team's medical staff. …

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