JUPITER, Fla. -- After throwing about 25 pitches in a simulated game at the Cardinals' spring complex Friday, Jason Motte remains on track to throw in a Spring Training game before camp breaks next week. That appearance, Motte confirmed, is planned for the back fields, where he can throw in a Minor League game and therefore have his disabled list stint backdated up to 10 days.
If all remains on schedule, Motte will make his spring debut on Thursday. Between now and then, he has one more simulated game planned. That will come on Monday, and it will be his fourth such session.
Friday's simulated game differed from the previous two in that there was no batting cage this time. A sizable crowd of Cardinals fans also attended and gave Motte a hearty applause after he faced Greg Garcia, Xavier Scruggs and Luis Mateo.
"It felt more realistic," Motte said afterward. "There's not a cage around, so it's definitely a little different. It wasn't 45,000 at Busch, but there was a little bit of atmosphere.
"The intensity, I feel like, was up more than last time. I felt pretty good with my cutter today. I was throwing it more game-like and got some good swings and misses on it, got some good takes on it. That was good. I can move my arm, so we're still doing good."
Motte remains on -- or even a bit ahead -- of schedule in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. The Cardinals have not set a projected date for his return to the 25-man roster, but things are tracking at a pace now that would have Motte ready to pitch in St. Louis by the end of April.
The right-hander has shown better command of his pitches each subsequent time he has faced hitters. Some of that, Motte said, is because he's finally trusting the stability of his surgically repaired elbow.
"It's strong, and it's right," said Motte. "The hardest part of an injury is with your mind, that you're OK and can do this and your arm is not going to go with it. I think after my first BP I was hesitant. My second one was, 'OK, I'm going to do it.' You have to, because you're facing hitters."
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.