Motte pleased after facing hitters for first time in almost one year

News-DemocratMarch 14, 2014 

— Jason Motte threw batting practice to a pair of minor-leaguers Friday.

Motte, coming back from Tommy John surgery, showed good velocity, but his command appeared off, something that might be expected at this juncture of his recovery.

"The command, I'm not really worried about that right now. That will come," said Motte, who threw for about 10 minutes.

Motte threw a bullpen Tuesday. As expected, the session against hitters was more intense.

"It was definitely more effort, more adrenaline than throwing a bullpen," said Motte, who hadn't thrown with such ferocity since last March 23 against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. "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.'

"It was (important) to come out of it feeling good. 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."

Motte even said he had some jitters before getting on the mound, realizing how long it had been since he faced hitters.

At one point, Motte became noticeably frustrated with a wayward two-seamer that short-hopped the plate. He got the ball back from catcher Tony Cruz and flipped it toward shortstop.

"I babied a little two-seamer. I was annoyed that I did it and I was like, 'That's stupid,'" Motte said. "If you start doing that on that, then you're babying other stuff. You've got to get to a point where you feel comfortable throwing it and go out there and do it."

Motte said he will throw at least two more live BPs.

"I'll throw a couple more live BPs, and each time progress the intensity up," he said. "But today went well. We did what we needed to do and got what we needed to get out of it."

Motte has no idea when he will be ready to pitch in a big-league game. There are still several hurdles to overcome.

"I try not to think much about it," he said. "Ever since this happened last year, I've taken it one day at a time. I don't know if that's a good or bad or whatever way to do it. I believe I can be back (by May). I believe I can be back before then. It just depends on how everything feels and how I progress with my throwing.

"The thing is, once I'm in that bullpen in St. Louis, there's no babying it. I don't want to go up there and just be throwing an inning. You're taking up a spot from someone else that could be going out there helping the team but also not making the other six guys in the bullpen wear innings that they don't need to wear."

Garcia plays catch

Another rehabbing pitcher, left-hander Jaime Garcia, played light catch from about 60 feet Friday morning.

"It was good. Everything's good. On track," said Garcia, who is trying to bounce back from shoulder discomfort that forced him to shut down early in spring training.

Garcia will stay on a similar course until doctors determine it is OK for him to take another step forward.

Piscotty the picker

Outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who has made quite the impression this spring, signed a $1.43 million bonus in 2012 after being selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the draft.

Piscotty, who starred at Stanford, worked out at Busch Stadium a few days later and said he would use some of the money to buy a guitar, with the rest of it probably going in the bank.

Piscotty's grandparents wound up buying him a guitar for Christmas that year, but Piscotty purchased a travel guitar that he takes with him on bus trips. It slips neatly into his backpack and is there whenever he wants it.

"I take it everywhere," he said.

Piscotty didn't take professional lessons, but he has learned to play the guitar using YouTube videos.

"I'm not great, but I can play some chords and stuff," he said.

For now, it's Piscotty's bat making the music. He entered the Cardinals' game Friday against Houston in Kissimmee, Fla. batting .333.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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