Cardinals closer Jason Motte has started throwing a baseball into a net, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Motte is on the DL with an elbow strain and is slated to have Tommy John surgery if he doesn't show improvement by May 1. That deadline might be pushed back because he's "throwing a ball now," according to a team official.
Motte, 30, is a converted catcher who has pitched to a 2.43 ERA with 9.5 K/9 in 192 1/3 innings since the start of the 2010 season. He took over as the team's closer late in the 2011 season and helped them to the World Series championship that fall. Motte saved a league-leading 42 games last year, his first as the full-time closer.
Right-hander Mitchell Boggs opened the season as the replacement closer, but he quickly lost the job after surrendering nine runs in his first 6 1/3 innings. Righty Edward Mujica has since taken over and gone a perfect 4-for-4 in save chances.
Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley unsuccessfully tried to rehab from an elbow strain this offseason. He wound up having Tommy John surgery earlier this week.