Jason Motte delivers a scoreless inning in his first rehab appearance at AAA Memphis

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Jason Motte — who needed Tommy John elbow surgery last spring and had to miss the entire 2013 season — is very close to rejoining the Cardinals.

According to Jim Hayes of FOX Sports Midwest, the right-hander threw a scoreless inning on 14 pitches Tuesday afternoon in his first appearance with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. He struck out three batters in four scoreless appearances for Double-A Springfield before shifting his minor league rehab assignment this week to the Triple-A level.

Motte is scheduled to pitch for Memphis again on Thursday and could be activated from the disabled list next week. He’ll pitch in a setup role initially but might quickly become a backup option at closer for the Cardinals. St. Louis’ current ninth-inning man, Trevor Rosenthal, is 10-for-10 in save opportunities but has an ugly 4.96 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 16 1/3 frames.

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.