The same day the Cardinals promoted a top talent from the minors to address immediate troubles in the bullpen they also gained closure on the injury that first led to their discombobulated relief. Righty Jason Motte, who tied for the National League lead last season with 42 saves, will have Tommy John surgery next week to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow. He will miss the remainder of this season and his rehab could extend into the beginning of the 2014 season. The club reached the decision Friday after Motte attempted to intensify his throwing program and his elbow resisted, general manager John Mozeliak said. The announcement came a few hours after the Cardinals demoted Motte’s replacement at closer, Mitchell Boggs, to Class AAA Memphis. The team called 21-year-old righty Carlos Martinez from Class AA to take Boggs’ spot in the bullpen and address relief issues with another power arm. “Clearly things have been frustrating for everybody involved at this point,” Mozeliak said of a bullpen that allowed four runs in the Cardinals’ 6-5 win Thursday at Milwaukee and entered Friday with a 5.90 ERA, the highest in the majors. “We just felt we had to do something. If we kept trying to run the same thing out there over and over again and expected a different outcome, that’s how you define insanity.” The Cardinals initially planned to have Motte meet with the team physician around May 1 to judge the healing in his right elbow and determine whether surgery was required or rehab could be pursued. Several days before the re-evaluation, Motte began to throw, and his initial progress fed his optimism. The club delayed a decision on surgery based on the slim chance a throwing program would allow Motte to return to the mound. He could not get through Friday’s workout without renewed discomfort in the elbow. “We were hopeful that maybe he could rehab through this,” Mozeliak said. “After throwing he realized that it’s not getting any better. I think setback is not the way to phrase it. He was making gradual progress, but what ended up happening as we started pushing him and started to demand more from (the elbow) he got to a point point where he couldn’t go further.” Motte, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract in January, first felt an issue in his elbow in the final week of spring training. Motte’s absence from the start of the season vaulted Boggs into the closer role, a chance he earned with 34 holds as the eighth-inning reliever last season. Boggs faltered. His mechanics awry, Boggs had two blown saves and two losses in his first 10 games. He allowed 30 baserunners in 10 2/3 innings and leaves a 12.66 ERA behind as he reports to Triple-A Memphis’ bullpen. Boggs walked both batters he faced Thursday night. It took the Cardinals three relievers to get three outs in the sixth inning, an inning they entered with a five-run lead. “There is a much different pitcher than what we’ve seen lately inside Mitchell Boggs,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Are we really positioning ourselves to really bring that out of him? It’s not going in the right direction. So we’ve got to try something new. You want to give him as much time and patience as possible. We’ve done that and just need to take a different route.” Boggs will initially get multiple-inning appearances in relief for Memphis. Mozeliak said he does not expect Boggs to have a “long stay” in the minors. Boggs’ instability in the role as closer was part of an unsettled bullpen that has been retooled twice this past week. The Cardinals have answered with moves that make it increasingly younger. Prospect Seth Maness preceded Martinez’s arrival and made his debut Friday night. Martinez, who pitched a scoreless inning Friday night, is the Cardinals’ third-youngest pitcher to debut since 1980. He also adds some velocity to the mix. In addition to above-average changeup, Martinez has hit 100 mph regularly, including late in a playoff start last fall. He consistently throws at 96 mph or faster. The Cardinals liken him to Trevor Rosenthal, the team’s setup man who a year ago vaulted from the Class AA rotation to the big-league bullpen like Martinez. Both bring heat that can compensate for some of the Cardinals’ relief struggles.
With Motte out for year, Cards retool bullpen
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | May 4