(BaseballStL) — Tuesday the Cardinals formally announced the return of former closer Jason Motte. Following the optioning of Sam Freeman to Memphis Sunday, it was a matter of time before the hard-throwing righty returned to the active roster.
"It’s good. It’s definitely been a long road," Motte said in front of his locker before the game. It was the first time in nearly 20 months he stood there as an active player for the Cardinals.
Following his 42-save campaign in 2012, Motte missed all of last season undergoing, then recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Even with a day-by-day approach, a return to action is a major milestone. The easy-going 31-year-old admitted Tuesday that though he tempers his expectations, it was a special commute to work.
"Today I was driving in to the field and I was looking up at the highway and I was like, 'you know, this is a little bit different drive coming into the field,'" he said. "Because even in the rehab stints, you know if you go to the park- ok you’re throwing that day, you know when you’re throwing."
With Mike Matheny revealing acting closer Trevor Rosenthal will be unavailable for the series opener with the Diamondbacks, the timing of Motte's first appearance is anyone's guess. Matheny did mention he is a candidate for final-inning work.
For Motte, nearly two years of waiting has bred patience. With the Cardinals' best deep-inning starter on the mound in Adam Wainwright, there is a chance the bullpen gets a night off en masse, something that wouldn't bother the bearded hurler one bit.
"I’d be perfectly fine in Waino wanted to go the whole way. I’m sure everybody else would be too," he said when asked if he'd like the St. Louis ace to leave an inning for him. "If it’s tonight if it’s tomorrow if it’s two days from now. It’s going to be what it’s going to be."
In his six rehab appearances this season, Motte didn’t allow a single run in nearly seven innings while surrendering three hits and striking out five. As for his role on the Cardinals, he said he's looking at it in a very simple way.
"When the phone rings and Mike tells me to get going, I’m going to get going," he said. "Hopefully I can get all the outs he wants me to get before he takes the ball out of my hand."