JUPITER, Fla. -- Despite the success that Cardinals relievers Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs had in their late-inning roles last season, both are spending Spring Training with a narrowed focus on getting better.
Boggs is learning to incorporate a slide step into his motion, which the Cardinals hope will help their setup man better control the running game. Last year, Boggs' time to the plate was about 1.5 seconds. The club would like to reduce that to somewhere in the 1.3-1.4 range.
Runners were 6-for-6 in stolen-base attempts against Boggs in 2012.
"Everybody has a list of things to work on, and that's one that Mitchell knows," manager Mike Matheny said. "When he comes on in the eighth inning and a runner gets on base, that's a big deal. He has to be able to slow down the running game. He's working on it."
As for Motte, he's experimenting with his changeup. According to fangraphs.com, only 1.5 percent of the pitches Motte threw in 2012 were changeups. The year before, that percentage was almost negligible (0.1 percent).
But if the Cardinals closer likes how the pitch (which is about 8-10 mph slower than his fastball) works for him this spring, Motte will consider it among his options this season.
"It's something that he's going to try to develop to be a big league pitch," pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said. "If he has his four-seam [fastball], a two-seam [fastball], a cutter and a changeup, that's just going to be another weapon. He's going to continue to throw it. and we'll see what it looks like."