Jason Motte faces hitters for first time since Tommy John surgery

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Jason Motte isn’t expected to join the Cardinals bullpen until May, but he took an important step yesterday in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the bearded reliever faced live hitters for the first time in a year.

Motte threw about 20 pitches to a group of Cardinals minor leaguers. While he wasn’t happy with his control, that’s not unexpected at this point of the rehab process. The most important thing is that he felt good.

“It was definitely more intense,” said Motte, who is recovering from elbow reconstruction surgery. “It was more effort, more adrenaline than just throwing a bullpen (session). It felt good. It feels good now. It’s not like I walked off the mound and it was miserable.

“Each day we’re taking steps forward and today was a big step.”

Assuming Motte bounces back OK, the plan calls for him to throw to hitters again in three days. Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said he’ll need to get through about three or four sessions before being cleared for game action, after which he’ll need to get through a handful of rehab appearances before joining the big club. The St. Louis bullpen is already pretty stacked, but they’ll be even scarier if Motte can return to form.

Report: Mets ownership backs Terry Collins

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The Mets entered Sunday night’s game against the Pirates with a disappointing 20-27 record. While the club has dealt with a litany of injuries, manager Terry Collins has also drawn criticism for in-game decision-making, particularly regarding his decision-making.

Owner Fred Wilpon is still Collins’ strongest supporter, however, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports. As a result, the team is unlikely to make a managerial change anytime soon. If the Mets continue to struggle, though, ownership may feel pressured to make a change.

Collins became the longest-tenured manager in Mets history last week. Collins managed the Mets to a 77-85 record in 2011 and has overall helped the club go 501-518, winning the NL Pennant in 2015. He is not signed to a contract beyond this season.

Joe Mauer becomes first Twin to reach base seven times in a game since Rod Carew

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Twins first baseman Joe Mauer had a game for the record books on Sunday against the Rays. He finished 4-for-5 with an RBI double, a solo home run, two singles, and three walks in eight plate appearances. Unfortunately for him, the Twins still lost 8-6 in 15 innings.

ESPN’s Stats & Info notes that Mauer is the first Twin to reach base seven times in one game since Rod Carew in 1972 against the Brewers. The last player to reach base seven times in one game (without the aid of an error) was Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford on August 8 last season against the Marlins. The feat has only been accomplished seven times this decade, so about once a year.

After Sunday’s game, Mauer is batting .283/.363/.408 with three home runs, 18 RBI, and 23 runs scored in 171 plate appearances. Not too shabby.