4/5/2014 7:06 P.M. ET
Pirates' defensive gem prolongs Bourjos' slow start
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- It has not been the smoothest start to his Cardinals career for Peter Bourjos, who has had two defensive mishaps and entered Saturday hitless in 10 at-bats. He seemed poised to insert some crooked numbers into his batting average on Friday but was denied that first hit on a sensational defensive play by Pirates catcher Russell Martin.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called it "borderline Cirque de Soleil" after the game. A day later, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny described it as "one of the better bunt defensive plays I've seen."
Trying to bunt his way to first, Bourjos pushed a pitch down the third-base line as he led off the fifth inning. Martin pounced on the ball, spun while planting his feet and threw the speedy Bourjos out on a bang-bang play.
"To go down on a knee like that, to come up … a lot of times when a catcher tries to pull that off, the back foot slips a little bit," Matheny said. "I think he showed off a lot of his athleticism there. It was a very, very impressive play. There are not many catchers in the league who are going to pull that off. I think ours is one. Theirs is another. Not a whole lot of other guys will make that play."
There were no signs of a looming slow start for Bourjos, who hit .324 in 37 spring at-bats. He continues to hit eighth in the Cardinals' lineup against right-handed starters and, as was the case with Francisco Liriano on the mound Saturday, seventh against lefties.
Cardinals to have $7.1 million in 2014 Draft bonus pool
PITTSBURGH -- Recent figures obtained by MLB.com show that the Cardinals will receive $7.1 million of bonus pool money for the 2014 First-Year Player Draft and another $1.9 million to spend in the international market.
That latter figure is the lowest total for any of the 30 Major League clubs, the byproduct of the Cardinals having the best record in baseball last season. It covers signings from July 2 through June 15 of the following year. Players, like recent St. Louis signee Aledmys Diaz, who are at least 23 years old and have played in a professional league for at least five seasons, do not count against this pool.
There are penalties for any overage in spending, though teams can also acquire additional international bonus pool money via trade. The Cardinals did this when they dealt Mitchell Boggs to Colorado last summer.
The bonus pool money for the amateur draft will have to cover the Cardinals' 12 selections in the Draft's first 10 rounds, as well as any bonuses of more than $100,000 to a player taken later. The Cardinals' first pick will be at No. 27 overall. They were also rewarded two extra selections -- one (No. 34) because Carlos Beltran declined a qualifying offer to sign elsewhere and another (No. 71) through the competitive balance lottery.
There could still be some shuffling of the draft order if any of the still unsigned free agents who did not accept a qualifying offer sign before June. The Cardinal's bonus pool money for the amateur draft currently ranks as the 12th highest in MLB.
Motte progressing toward Minors rehab assignment
PITTSBURGH -- With the Cardinals bullpen looking a bit porous in the early going, St. Louis continues to have its eye on rehabbing right-hander Jason Motte, who could help the bullpen in a big way should he return to pre-surgery form.
Motte made more progress on Saturday. Via a text to MLB.com, Motte said he struck out one and induced three grounders in a 15-pitch extended spring training game appearance. Motte's next outing is scheduled for Tuesday, after which he'll make a quick visit to St. Louis for a charity event.
He's expected to be ready for a Minor League rehab assignment soon after that.
The Cardinals have not defined a relief role for Motte, who was the team's closer before an elbow injury cost him the 2013 season. Pitching on back-to-back days during his rehab work, manager Mike Matheny said, is not absolutely necessary. The Cardinals will likely have Motte make at least one multiple-inning relief appearance so that he is prepared for that sort of spot once off the disabled list.
"When we get him back, we'll see how he's throwing the ball and throw him in different situations," Matheny said. "Those could be different every night depending on how well rested everybody else is."
Maness searching for mechanical return to top form
PITTSBURGH -- A day after he allowed four hits and one run in a rocky season debut, Cardinals reliever Seth Maness said he identified "something just a little bit off with the mechanics" of his delivery. An adjustment, he said, should help as he searches for the feel of his sinker, the pitch Maness is most reliant on.
The young right-hander had some troubles getting in sync this spring and left Florida having allowed 11 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings, allowing two or more runs in an appearance four different times. Though the hits got through then and continued to do so on Friday, Maness said he was encouraged by the fact that several were on ground balls.
The first hit off Maness likely wouldn't have been one had the infield not been pulled in. Russell Martin's RBI single in the seventh off Maness on Friday was also a ground ball that squirted through the infield. In between, Maness hit a batter and allowed two line drive hits.
It had been eight days since he last pitched.
"The challenge, I'd say, was more mentally being able to come out there and be sharp," Maness said. "But you're always ready to go. You just have to be ready for everything."
• Top prospect Oscar Taveras connected for his first home run of the season in Memphis' 9-0 win on Friday night. Infielder Greg Garcia also homered twice in the Triple-A game. Right-hander Angel Castro pitched five scoreless innings.
• Five pitchers, including the organization's Minor League pitcher of the year Zach Petrick, combined to pitch a shutout for Double-A Springfield in its 1-0 win on Friday. Petrick struck out eight, walked one and gave up two hits in five innings.
• Kolten Wong is the only Cardinals' player to have hit safely in each of the team's first four games. He and Matt Adams entered Saturday tied with a team-best .438 on-base percentage.
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.