Motte's absence opens spot on roster

Motte's absence opens spot on roster

JUPITER, Fla. -- After weeks of wondering who would win the Cardinals' fifth rotation spot and whether the one left out would end up in the bullpen or the Minors, it appears as if both Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly will have Major League jobs on Opening Day.

Saturday's news that Jason Motte was shut down with an elbow injury brought clarity to a pitching competition that seemingly had three pitchers -- Miller, Kelly and Fernando Salas -- competing for two roster spots. With an unanticipated opening now in the bullpen, all three are expected to make the team.

"That definitely makes a different scenario for us," manager Mike Matheny said. "It puts different people in different positions. But once again, we're going to continue to finish riding out a couple more days here, watch another start, see what we have. It definitely gives a different look to it."

The Cardinals have chosen to give Miller, not Kelly, the start Monday, which would seem to indicate how they are leaning. Miller, who tossed four scoreless innings in his start Tuesday, has been strong all spring in his pitch for a rotation spot.

If Miller gets it, Kelly could then slot into a relief role; Salas would, as well. The rest of the Cardinals' projected bullpen would include Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica, Trevor Rosenthal, Randy Choate and Marc Rzepczynski.

"We've got a good group of guys down there in the bullpen," Motte said. "We've had guys step in year in, year out, so I don't feel like anyone is in a panic."

With Boggs taking over as the team's closer, the Cardinals still need to define how they will cover the preceding innings. Mujica and Rosenthal figure to factor into that late-inning mix. Choate will, too, though his role will continue to be left-on-left specific.

"I think we certainly have the guys out there who can step into any role, any situation and be very, very good," Boggs said. "Even without Jason, our bullpen and the guys in that bullpen are extremely good. And when we get Jason back, we'll be that much better. We have to go out and take care of business and do the things that we can control. But if we do that, there's no reason that we can't be as good as anybody in the league."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.