KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- While the Cardinals traveled to Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday morning to face the Astros, rehabbing reliever Jason Motte faced hitters for the first time since March 23, 2013.
It was after that outing against the Mets that Motte felt an unusual sensation in his right elbow. He stopped his throwing program and eventually had to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Motte has been working his way back to the mound since, and after a month of throwing bullpen sessions, he was able to test his command against hitters.
What Motte learned was there was still a ways to go before his command comes all the way back.
"It was definitely more effort, more adrenaline than throwing a bullpen," Motte told the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat, which had a reporter back in Jupiter for the session. "It felt good, went well. I feel good now. It's not one of those [things] where I walked off the mound and I was like, 'This feels miserable.'"
Motte faced two Minor League hitters in live batting practice while throwing to catcher Tony Cruz. The Cardinals have not yet said whether they expect Motte to pitch in a spring game before the end of camp. He will begin the season on the disabled list.
"It was [important] to come out of it feeling good," Motte told the newspaper. "Also to just accomplish getting out there and cranking it up to that next level of actually facing hitters and knowing these guys are swinging and it's not like a bullpen. I'll throw a couple more live BPs, and each time progress the intensity up. But today went well. We did what we needed to do and got what we needed to get out of it."
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.