The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

TCN blog 2013 top story #16: Missing Motte

As we have been reminded many times before, no Major League Baseball player should be considered indispensable. Yet, I was among the many who were extremely worried this spring when St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Motte’s injured elbow ultimately required season-ending surgery.

Fortunately, others stepped into the void. First, Mitchell Boggs, albeit briefly. Edward Mujica then held down the fort for months before running out of gas. Later on, Trevor Rosenthal showed he was ready to ensure that ninth inning pitching continued to rarely be the reason for a Cardinals loss in 2013.

Still, Motte was missed. Had the others been able to play set up roles in front of him, other games lost in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings might have been won.

Motte’s 2013 started extremely well. On January 22, the Cardinals announced that he had agreed to a new, two-year contract for the 2013 and 2014 seasons worth $12 million. The deal avoided salary arbitration both years and settled his pay in his final pre-free agent season in 2014.

His problems followed relatively quickly, however. It began on March 22, when the right-hander suffered what was originally diagnosed as a mild elbow strain in a spring training contest.

The rest and rehab route was initially chosen, but a subsequent MRI taken in April once swelling subsided indicated a low-grade ligament tear. The club announced that if the injury did not improve over the next three weeks, by May 1, season-ending Tommy John surgery may be prescribed.

The deadline was extended as Motte played catch while trying to work his way back. But, the seemingly-inevitable date with the surgeon arrived on May 6. The 31-year-old’s Tommy John procedure meant he would miss the remainder of 2013 and likely carry into 2014, as well.

All reports on Motte’s rehab have been positive. Recovery rates from the procedure have been high, but not 100 percent. The Cardinals have already announced that Rosenthal will open the 2014 season as closer. Whether or not Motte regains that role during the final season of his current contract and what that might mean for his future will surely bear watching.

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7 Responses to “TCN blog 2013 top story #16: Missing Motte”

  1. [...] ongoing ouchie 18. Beltran walks again 17. Eventful external minor league ownership 16. Missing Motte 15. 14. 13. 12. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. [...]

  2. blingboy says:

    Those ‘mild elbow strains’ can be as pesky as sprained ankles. The wasted month and a half is Doc Paletta’s MO.

    • crdswmn says:

      I kind of understand the reasoning behind trying other things before defaulting to surgery. For most injuries, surgery should be the last resort. But as fans we tend to get frustrated when surgery is put off because it keeps the player out of the game longer. The thing is that the health and safety of the player should be paramount, and every surgery, even routine ones, carry risks. I know of someone who died of a reaction to anesthesia during a routine gall bladder operation. It is rare, but it does happen.

      • Brian Walton says:

        Another point rarely considered is the wishes of the player, because we almost never know about that. Some people assume these guys are machines, with no opinion about what is done to their bodies. For all we know, the Cardinals wanted to cut day one, but Motte himself preferred to try to play. I am not saying that happened, but if it had, we wouldn’t know it.

        • crdswmn says:

          Exactly. The player’s wishes could also be a factor in why injuries tend to be downplayed. What injured pitcher considering his future earnings would want it to be known publicly that his arm is about to fall off?

  3. [...] Motte’s season-ending elbow injury was not the only setback faced by the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen corps during 2013. Fortunately, [...]

  4. [...] Motte’s spring training elbow injury, which ultimately became season-ending, meant the worst. The St. Louis Cardinals would play all of [...]

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