The Cardinals will have to get by without their closer for the start of the season.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Jason Motte was diagnosed with a “mild strain” of his right elbow following an MRI. The Cardinals plan to shut him down for at least the next week, so with the start of the season just nine days away, a stint on the disabled list is inevitable.
Motte felt discomfort in his elbow after his most recent appearance Thursday afternoon against the Mets. He was sent for an MRI yesterday after the pain intensified. There’s no clear timeline for his return, as the Cardinals will try to get the inflammation to subside and go from there.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that Mitchell Boggs will get the first opportunity to fill in at closer during Motte’s absence. The 29-year-old right-hander had a 2.21 ERA and 58/21 K/BB ratio over 73 1/3 innings last season. Losing one of the best closers in the game obviously hurts, but the Cardinals have no shortage of quality arms.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.