Cardinals send down Perez, Motte the likely closer
Perez, a first round pick in 2006, experienced arm trouble earlier this spring
Perez's departure means Motte will get first crack at saving games
La Russa will probably give opportunities to other relievers as well
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals reassigned Chris Perez to the minor leagues following their 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins on Monday, clearing the way for Jason Motte to get the bulk of the work as their closer.
Perez, a first round pick in 2006, experienced arm trouble earlier this spring. He entered Monday's game having made eight one-inning appearances and allowed only two earned runs.
Perez started 2008 with Triple-A Memphis before a midseason callup.He appeared in 41 games for the Cardinals, posting a 3-3 record and earning seven saves.
"He's got 100 innings in minor league baseball," La Russa said. "He's really such a young pitcher. He needs to work. He needs to work regularly. He can be the closer in Memphis and get valuable experience."
Perez's departure means Motte will get first crack at saving games, though La Russa will probably give opportunities to other relievers as well.
"We are going to use whoever is available but I would believe that Motte is going to get a chance to close games," La Russa said.
Motte was warming up to come in for a save opportunity when Matt Craig's two-out double down the right-field line drove in Cameron Maybin to make it 1-all in the eighth inning.
The Cardinals won the game in the ninth when Colby Rasmus led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. Following an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Rasmus scored when Khalil Greene singled to center and Maybin's throw home got away from catcher John Baker.
Marlins' pitcher Andrew Miller had his best outing of the spring, allowing one run on four hits in six innings. The outing was the longest of the spring for Miller, who entered Monday's game with a 7.82 ERA.
Miller is slated to be in the Marlins' starting rotation, but prior to this outing he hadn't exactly inspired confidence. Against the Cardinals, Miller retired the final 12 batters he faced and the lone run he allowed was unearned.
"The last few times I've been out, even the minor league game I threw, I've been getting a little more comfortable," Miller said. "Every time I've thrown lately I've definitely been able to walk away and say that I've built some confidence."
Cardinals' starter Joel Pineiro also had his best outing of the spring, holding the Marlins scoreless on three hits while working into the seventh inning. Like Miller, Pineiro also set down 12 consecutive batters at one point during the outing.
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