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.

Adeiny Hechavarría rejoins Braves on one-year, $1 million deal

Adeiny Hechavarría
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On Thursday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the Braves and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarría reunited on a one-year, $1 million contract.

Hechavarría, 30, began the season with the Mets but was released in mid-August and joined the Braves shortly thereafter. He enjoyed more success in Atlanta, albeit in a smaller sample size. In aggregate, Hechavarría hit .241/.299/.443 with nine home runs and 33 RBI over 221 trips to the plate. More importantly, he provided versatility with above-average defense.

The Braves are banking on Hechavarría doing more of the same in 2020 as a backup infielder. He will spell Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Johan Camargo, and Austin Riley as needed.