4/15/2013 9:00 P.M. ET
Matheny likely to adjust Cards' bullpen strategy
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- A day after another late-inning meltdown by the back end of the bullpen, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny indicated that closer duties were likely to be spread around until the club regained some late-inning stability.
Describing it as a "mild adjustment," Matheny said late-inning assignments would be determined no longer by set prescribed roles, but rather dictated by matchups or game progression. This is a change for the Cardinals, who, when Jason Motte sustained an elbow injury in March, immediately named Mitchell Boggs the team's closer.
"As soon as Motte went down, there was a need, at least in our mind, to give that clear message that this is our guy right now," Matheny said. "We continue to stand by the fact that we believe Mitchell can get outs in the ninth inning. But there are times through every season that you have to look around and say, 'What do we need to do to give ourselves the best chance?' The best chance may be Mitchell in the ninth. It may be one of the other guys."
Boggs has so far converted just two of his four save opportunities. He allowed another game to get away in the ninth when he allowed seven runs after entering with the score tied.
Trevor Rosenthal, who took Boggs' place as the team's eighth-inning setup man, has not fared much better in his enhanced role, also blowing two saves, and the two-run homer Rosenthal allowed Sunday ignited the Brewers' rally.
As all this has happened, the Cardinals have also received worsening news about the closer they were hoping would soon return. An MRI exam last week confirmed that Motte had sustained a ligament tear, and he will have surgery in early May if the ligament does not heal on its own. Such surgery would end Motte's season, leaving the Cardinals with the need for a long-term stopgap.
"There's going to be some years for teams that you just have to continue to fight your way through it," Matheny said. "That's where we are right now. We're going to have to fight our way until we figure out exactly how it's going to work out. That may have to change on a nightly basis."
It's not all that different from the direction the Cardinals turned in 2011, when Ryan Franklin's April struggles led then-manager Tony La Russa to use a closer-by-committee approach to help his 'pen stabilize. The Cardinals had eight pitchers record a save that season.
Matheny noted that he had a "group of guys" who he would consider for late-game situations. That includes veterans Edward Mujica and Randy Choate, as well as Joe Kelly, who was a closer in college. Boggs and Rosenthal will continue to be considered as late-game options, too.
Matheny's most pressing concern regarding Boggs, who posted a 2.21 ERA and led the league in holds last year, is that the right-hander regains any lost confidence.
"I think every one of these guys believes every single day that they have to go out and be whatever player we ask them to be in whatever role," Matheny said. "That's just their job to take the ball when we give it to them. I know he's done a very good job of just standing up and taking whatever heat that he believes he's caused. We want to see him be successful. We also want him to get to the point where he can feel good about where he is."
Cards help pay tribute to Jackie with No. 42
PITTSBURGH -- As has become a yearly tribute to baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson, all players and uniformed staff donned uniform No. 42 on Monday, the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking the sport's color barrier by making his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute. The only active player still wearing the number is Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who has announced that he will retire after this season. At that point, the number will only be worn every April 15.
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"I think it's something that we should do," Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay said. "He opened up the doors for a lot of people -- for Latinos, anyone of color. If you think of how many people his influence has helped out, it has changed the lives of so many people who have been able to help their families by playing baseball. When you look over the last 50 years, that's a lot of people who have been taken care of because of what Jackie did.
"I can't imagine what it was like to play in those times, dealing with all he had to deal with. But I've read a lot, and when I've seen videos, he always had a smile on his face. His impact to the game was so much more than just being a player. It couldn't have been easy at all."
Jay said he hoped to soon find time to watch the recently released movie, "42," which traces Robinson's journey from the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs to the Major Leagues. Manager Mike Matheny said Monday that he, too, looked forward to seeing the film.
"I think it's huge for our sport and for our country, the courage that he had," Matheny said. "In talking to Lou Brock and Bob Gibson and hearing the stories of the struggles and the things that they had to go through, and Ted Savage, it just blows me away. It seems like it was another world.
"How these guys had to stand up to something as crazy as this, I'm ashamed that that was something they had to go through. Fortunately, people like Jackie Robinson carried that banner so well and we were able to get past it."
After Monday's game, all the Cardinals' players and coaches will sign a No. 42 jersey that will be auctioned on MLB.com. The proceeds of that auction will benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
• Right-handed pitcher Keith Butler was promoted to Triple-A Memphis, a move made necessary with Eduardo Sanchez landing on the disabled list. Sanchez has a right forearm strain. Butler opened the season as the closer with Double-A Springfield. He converted three saves, pitched four no-hit innings, walked one and struck out nine.
• High-A Palm Beach (Fla.) outfielder James Ramsey, the No. 23 overall selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, was named the Florida State League's player of the week for the period from April 4-14. During that 10-game stretch, Ramsey had 15 hits -- seven of which went gone for extra bases. Ramsey scored 12 runs and drove in four.
• Left-hander Tyler Lyons opened his season with two wins in two starts for Triple-A Memphis. He allowed three runs over six innings in Memphis' 10-3 win Sunday. He stranded eight runners in the outing.
• Before Monday's game, a moment of silence was observed at PNC Park for those who were affected by Monday's explosions in Boston. The television in the Cardinals' clubhouse was turned to the news Monday afternoon while news of the Boston Marathon bombing was unfolding.
• Matt Adams, who played college ball at Pittsburgh-area Slippery Rock University, found himself with several fan and media requests Monday, which marked his first visit to PNC Park. If Adams is to make a start in the series, it will most likely be Wednesday, as he will not start against lefty Jonathan Sanchez in the second game of the three-game set.
• Sanchez will be just the second left-handed starter to oppose the Cardinals this season. Manager Mike Matheny said that could set up as a matchup suited for starting outfielder Shane Robinson. After having the best Spring Training of any Cardinals position player, Robinson has not started a game in the regular season.
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.