Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Motte aren’t going to escape the question this spring or season. It’s not so much about who is the closer but who will be the closer at the end. Jason Motte took over the job in the latter parts of 2011 and thrived, saving 42 games in 2012 and performing well in the playoffs. In the spring of 2013, Motte went down with Tommy John Surgery and after Edward Mujica bridged the gap for 4 months, Trevor Rosenthal took over and was outstanding. 2014 will bring interesting events to every part of the team but the closer role could be a riddle that lasts into 2015 and beyond.
What did Motte think of Trevor’s job at the end of the season? “(Trevor) didn’t do anything any different. He was pretty good. You look at the stuff they have and he hasn’t done anything any different. It’s been fun to watch. It wasn’t a surprise to me.”
Trevor sees the situation as another sign of the great depth of pitching on this team. “We are both here to help the team win. You see a team with so much pitching. Like with Mujica last year, he was the closer all year and then I had to help him out in the end.”
The main thing on Motte’s mind right now is getting healthy and that started with an exam this week and gets more serious this coming week as he starts to throw in Florida. There is no timetable for his return. “We are going to throw more next week and work our way up. It won’t be a normal spring training. There isn’t a timetable. You don’t want to rush it back and then end up hurting yourself and the team. I just need to take my time and get healthy so I can get out there and help the team win.”
Rosenthal has enjoyed a winter working out with Matt Holliday on an NFL style fitness regime. “Doing a lot of injury prevention here in St. Louis. Leaning how to eat well. Building up the body with Matt and throwing a lot with Shelby Miller.”
When I asked Motte how it felt to not pitch at all in 2013, his answer was unexpected.
“It sounds weird, but I was able to do other stuff. Spend time with my family and my little kid. Spend time with families and people like Brant. The team would be on the road for 7 days and I would work out for a couple hours and be like…what now. Stuff like that, seeing families and spending time with my kid, that made it different.”
Brant is one of the families Motte has worked with this past year in his cancer foundation called “K Cancer”. He made great use of his time away from baseball and developed relationships and friendships that will last a long time. What is he looking forward to now? Getting back on the mound and not worrying about closer controversies or distractions. The closing situation doesn’t even exist until Motte does three things.
1.) Get 100 percent healthy and back on the mound.
2.) Show that he can pitch after the surgery and get outs.
3.) Pitch at a dominant level.
He is keeping his focus on finding the mound again. “I’ve never pitched anywhere but the 9th inning(joking). I have to go out there and be healthy. We all know that. That is what it’s about.”
Rosenthal never loses sight of the team mindset. “Picking up each other and doing what we have to do to win.”
I won’t sit here and tell you we have seen the last of Jason Motte in the 9th inning. I will easily inform you that Trevor Rosenthal has it covered for the time being. When it comes to baseball players, questioning their role is one thing. Questioning their drive to stay healthy and contribute is clearly out of bounds.
Come back later tonight for a picture/player bit wrapup and tomorrow a feature on Tony La Russa as he looks back on a long storied career managing. I’m bringing the Winter Warmup coverage hard and direct this year. Hope you are enjoying the content.