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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.

No structural damage found in Andrew Benintendi’s knee

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 24:  Shortstop Matt Duffy #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays tags out Andrew Benintendi #40 of the Boston Red Sox after Dustin Pedroia grounded into the double play  during the seventh inning of a game on August 24, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Good news in Boston: An MRI on Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi‘s left knee revealed no structural damage.

Benintendi slipped while trying to avoid a tag at second base, injuring his leg, but it appears he’s avoided a serious injury. A timetable for his return isn’t known at this point, but the Red Sox expect to get him back before the end of the season.

Benintendi is hitting .324/.365/.485 with a homer and ten RBI in 21 games.

Carlos Ruiz leaves a goodbye note for the Phillies

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Carlos Ruiz #51 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a portrait on February 26, 2016 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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And then there was one. One player from the 2008 World Series champs, that is. Ryan Howard likely isn’t going anywhere so he’ll be the last one to turn the lights off, but today Carlo Ruiz bid adieu to the Phillies following his trade to Los Angeles.

Lost in all of the emotions the Dodgers are reported to be feeling about A.J. Ellis leaving is the fact that Ruiz was one of the most beloved Phillies players ever, by both his teammates and their fans. Yesterday Roy Halladay penned a heartfelt goodbye to Ruiz, suggesting that he was every bit as essential to his and the Phillies’ success as Ellis has been to Clayton Kershaw (and in pure baseball production, obviously, quite more).

Today Chooch left a message for his now former teammates: