Jaime Garcia, Jason Motte nearing rehab games

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The Cardinals announced Tuesday night, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that injured pitchers Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte have been cleared to begin minor league rehab assignments this weekend with Double-A Springfield.

Garcia is set to make the first of what will likely be several rehab starts on Sunday against the Double-A affiliate of the Rockies. He hasn’t appeared in a major league game since May 2013 because of chronic shoulder troubles and the Cardinals can’t be sure of what they’re going to get from him this year.

Motte is on his way back from Tommy John elbow surgery. At almost 12 months removed from the procedure, he’s hitting just 92-93 mph with his fastball. Motte averaged 96.8 mph with his fastball in 2012, and he could spend quite a bit of time in the minor leagues considering how much of his past effectiveness relied on throwing heat.

Pirates pitcher Steven Brault sang the National Anthem last night

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Pittsburgh Pirates swingman Steven Brault has a 4.38 ERA in 19 games this year. He also has a music degree and is a professional singer on the side of his baseball gig. He didn’t get into last night’s game against the Brewers as a pitcher, but he did get to use his singing skills.

Specifically, Brault got to sing the National Anthem. And he did an OK job of it too. He’s not Whitney Houston or anything, but he did what all Anthem singers who are not as gifted as Whitney Houston was should do: he kept it straight and businesslike, avoiding unnecessary flourishes:

It’s march, dang it, not a ballad, and it should be treated as such. Unless of course you’re Whitney Houston.