Cardinals reliever Jason Motte, who led the National League in saves in 2012, said Tuesday that it would be "a push" for him to be ready for opening day on his current rehab schedule.

"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," Motte said. "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 had Tommy John surgery in May to repair a ruptured ligament in his right (pitching) elbow.

He is 9 1/2 months removed from surgery, and it is not unusual for a pitcher to require 12 months before returning to major-league competition. Relievers and position players recovery sooner than starters because they don't require the time to build stamina after health. Ten months is not an unusual target for a reliever.

Motte had a brief setback in his throwing before camp.

That has caused a lag in his schedule that he could make up, but as of right now he would not be ready for opening day.