Cards bullpen in flux while Motte mends

Cards bullpen in flux while Motte mends

PHOENIX -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is accustomed to closing games with a formulaic sequence of Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte. But with Motte opening the season on the disabled list, Matheny will need to find late-inning stability without his closer.

Matheny has already announced that he'll turn to Boggs in save situations. How Matheny will bridge the gap between his starter and Boggs, though, remains unsettled. Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal are likely to factor in as setup men, though Matheny shied away from designating roles for anyone aside from Boggs.

One of Matheny's trickiest maneuvers could be finding the right spot to use Randy Choate, who was acquired over the winter to fill the role of lefty specialist. Choate, however, struggled to get outs over the final three weeks of Spring Training, and bringing him in for one batter could force Matheny to use three of his seven relievers in one inning.

"We'll feel our way through it," Matheny said. "It's going to be tough knowing that spot when to use him when we've got some right-handers getting lefties out. Do we have the kind of depth that we can pull one of those guys out for one hitter and burn up another guy? There's going to be some interesting dynamics. We'll get him in there when we feel like it's going to be a pivotal point and our best chance to use him."

Joe Kelly opens the season as the Cardinals' long reliever, though Matheny has said he also doesn't want to pigeonhole Kelly into that role. He, along with Fernando Salas and Marc Rzepczynski, are likely to start the year pitching in middle relief.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for 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.