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With Motte out, Boggs given closer responsibility

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Rather than proceed with a closer-by-committee approach during Jason Motte's absence, manager Mike Matheny designated Mitchell Boggs as the one who will inherit the save opportunities.

Boggs slides into the role after pitching primarily as Motte's eighth-inning setup man in 2012. He thrived in that spot, leading the National League with 34 holds and ranking sixth among NL relievers with a 2.21 ERA. He lost the Cardinals a lead only three times in 78 appearances and made 23 consecutive scoreless appearances at one point.

"He did a great job last year, and it's a pretty reasonable transition," Matheny said. "That's where we'll start."

Boggs has four career saves, all of which came in 2011. He recorded saves in three straight appearances from April 20-24 before blowing a save April 26. That prompted then-manager Tony La Russa to continue spreading the opportunities around. Boggs would not close another game until July.

How long Boggs will remain a closer this time will depend both on how long Motte (mild flexor tendon strain) is sidelined and how Boggs fares with the new late-game responsibility.

"It's an opportunity, but at the same time, you don't make it more than what it is," Boggs said of stepping back into that ninth-inning role. "You continue to go out there and pitch. For me, I'll take the same approach that I took last year -- that's don't concern yourself with a role, concern yourself with what you have to do to get outs and be the best possible pitcher I can possibly be."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

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