Motte Injures Back, Greenwood Recalled

Former St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Motte has suffered a back injury with Nick Greenwood recalled from Triple-A Memphis.

On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals placed RHP Jason Motte on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back sprain. Motte’s D.L. move is retroactive to August 1. The team has recalled LHP Nick Greenwood from Memphis (AAA) who will join the team in Baltimore for Friday night’s game.

Motte began the season on the 15-day disabled list recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in May 2013. He made his season debut on May 21, and since then has appeared in 23 games pitching 21.0 innings. Seventeen of Motte’s 23 outings out of the bullpen have been scoreless.

Greenwood, 27, will be joining the big league club for the second time this season, having appeared in nine games from June 15 – July 22. During that stretch he threw 19.0 innings for St. Louis, including the team’s longest outing by a reliever this year on June 28 at LA Dodgers when he went 4.0 innings (3H, 0R). Greenwood made his Major League debut on June 16 vs. New York Mets, earning his first career win after pitching 3.1 innings (1R).

At Memphis, the 6-1 lefthander is 4-4 with a 3.02 ERA having pitched 50.2 innings over 27 games including five starts.

Brian Walton’s take: Sometimes what is not said can be at least as important as what is. Note the careful omission above of Motte’s ERA, 4.91, driven a large part by seven home runs allowed in just 21 innings.

One question is how long the 32-year-old has been ailing. Motte has not pitched in a week, since August 1, and appeared just twice in the last 2 ½ weeks, since July 23.

A free agent following the season, Motte needs to re-establish his value, if not to the Cardinals, then to other clubs. That obviously cannot occur from the vantage point of the disabled list.

Greenwood becomes the fourth left-hander in the Cardinals’ seven-man pen. At this point, the only 40-man roster right-handed relievers in Memphis are Eric Fornataro and Jorge Rondon, both of whom have already received several trials with St. Louis earlier this season.

Though Carlos Martinez is starting for the Redbirds, Mike Matheny was recently quoted as saying that upon his return from Memphis, Martinez will likely pitch out of the pen. However, the Cards may not want to give up that rotation insurance policy quite yet, also considering the full severity of Motte’s injury is unclear at this time.

One name to watch in the upcoming days is Zach Petrick. The former organization Pitcher of the Year appears to have been squeezed out of the Memphis rotation and pitched in long relief on Monday night. Another would be veteran David Aardsma - if the former MLB closer had not been on the Redbirds’ DL since mid-June, that is.

The Cardinals could also decide to strengthen the right-side of their pen via a waiver claim deal in August.

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