ATLANTA -- Jason Motte found more than just improved competition as he began a Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield on Friday. He also discovered added life on his fastball.
Motte, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, struck out all three batters he faced in Sunday's one-inning appearance. The result was positive, but the Cardinals were especially pleased with the radar gun readings. Motte, whose fastball was topping at 92-93 mph during his extended Spring Training appearances, reached as high as 96 mph in his Double-A outing.
"The reason we wanted him to be in a game anyway was to just get a little of that adrenaline going," general manager John Mozeliak said. "We felt like what was happening down in Florida was kind of that same routine day in and day out, and it's hard to get up for it. Our goal was to have him pitch under the lights."
Motte didn't exactly pitch under the lights, as Springfield played during the afternoon on Sunday. But he did have a sellout crowd at Hammons Field behind him. Mozeliak said he was unsure of Motte's pitching schedule for the week, but that the organization does plan to have the right-hander pitch on consecutive days soon.
"He had a good day," manager Mike Matheny said. "He had the life. That was one of the things we were concerned about not seeing. But getting into a higher level intensity situation, he did a real nice job making the most of his outing."
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.Less