Matheny working through bullpen's early struggles

Matheny working through bullpen's early struggles

ST. LOUIS -- A day after watching relievers Trevor Rosenthal and Mitchell Boggs unravel in the final two innings of Monday's blowout loss, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny gave little indication of any forthcoming changes as to how he manages the back end of his bullpen.

Asked if he intends to unplug Rosenthal from the eighth-inning setup role or remove Boggs as the team's closer, Matheny responded, "[That's] nothing that we're drawing up ahead of time. We'll just see how the game goes. I do know that we have faith in these guys. We continue to watch every day and see how the game plays out."

With Tuesday's news that closer Jason Motte has a right elbow ligament tear, the Cardinals are no longer trying just to tread water until Motte's return. There is the growing possibility that the Cardinals will need a new closer for an entire season. Boggs, who was the team's setup man in 2012, has been given the first crack at that job, but he blew his first save opportunity and couldn't preserve a tie game on Monday.

"The ninth inning is different," Matheny said. "A lot of guys who have been successful in it have also had struggles. It's just that balance of going out there and trying to figure out what gives our team the best chance. A lot of it is just learning how to handle some of the things that are unique to pitching in different situations."

Rosenthal could emerge as another closer candidate, though he first has to prove that he can be reliable in setup duties. Matheny may choose to make Edward Mujica, Fernando Salas and/or Joe Kelly more of a factor in late-inning spots, too. Salas saved 24 games for the Cardinals in 2011; Kelly was a closer through much of his college career.

The Cardinals aren't opposed to looking externally for additional bullpen help, though the market isn't all that saturated with intriguing options this early in the season.

"In terms of how you deal with it long term, I think it's a little premature to start dealing with that," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Obviously, the season just began. Teams are still sorting themselves out. We're one of them. As far as how the manager handles the bullpen, I know everybody is available and we hope for better success."

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.