ST LOUIS -- Jason Motte ran onto the field on Tuesday with a minute to spare for warmups and he laughed and joked with teammates once there. If there was ever doubt that Motte's return to the Cardinals' bullpen was simply about depth, his manager made things clear.
"I think what it adds is more leadership," manager Mike Matheny said. "It takes some heat off Randy Choate, who sometimes feels like a KinderCare teacher is what he says. They have a lot of fun down there, too, and there's a sense of that that Motte brings."
Motte was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Tuesday's series opener against Arizona after missing all of last season and the first 44 games this year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. To make room for the 31-year old right-hander, the Cardinals optioned Sam Freeman to Triple-A Memphis.
The veteran Motte joins a bullpen seeking depth and experience. Motte has plenty of the latter, closing out the 2011 World Series for the Cardinals. He rejoins St. Louis after six scoreless rehab appearances between Double-A and Triple-A and a successful bullpen session on Sunday with no ill effects.
Expectations for a role have been absent. The first step is simply returning.
"I need to prove that I can go out there and get guys out," Motte said. "Like I said, coming back from this, there's so many questions that are unknown. So it's one of those things I've got to get out there and prove I can go out there and do it."
Cards looking to rest Rosenthal, set up arms
ST. LOUIS -- Normally not one to announce a player's unavailability for strategic purposes, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was uncharacteristically unhesitant on Tuesday to note that he would not use closer Trevor Rosenthal in the series opener against Arizona.
Who Matheny would use in a save situation went unsaid, but it would be the first time this season that Rosenthal won't get the ball in such a spot. Rosenthal pitched four straight days leading up to Monday's off-day. He blew a lead in the last of those four appearances on Sunday. Once Matheny called on Rosenthal to pitch that afternoon he had already determined that Rosenthal would need to be inactive for at least the next two days.
Workload concerns don't just circle Rosenthal, either. Matheny has been bullish in riding the arms of his most trusted three relievers -- Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist -- and that could present potential fatigue concerns later this season if Matheny doesn't find other relievers to use.
That's one of the reasons why Jason Motte's return -- he came off the disabled list on Tuesday -- could be especially imperative.
"We've had a lot of close games in a short amount of time here, and that puts a lot of weight on them," Matheny said of his late-inning trio. "With Motte being able to come back here, a guy who knows how to pitch in big innings, and [Pat] Neshek certainly has the ability to pitch in those games as well and take some of the pressure off them at times."
The pushing of setup men Siegrist and Martinez has led them to each pitch in half of the team's 44 games through the weekend. Those 22 appearances rank sixth-most in the National League and puts the two young pitchers on pace for 81 outings. That is a total that no NL reliever reached last season.
Martinez, with 23 innings entering Tuesday, had the seventh-highest innings total among NL relievers. Rosenthal wasn't far behind him at 21 2/3.
"I haven't made it any secret about the fact that the only way we were going to be able to get through going through a tough time is pushing," Matheny said. "We've been pushing. Sometimes that's pushing arms. Sometimes that's pushing position players. But we're just trying to find a way to stay in this and keep fighting."
In the past week, Rosenthal had been used in five games, Martinez in four and Siegrist three times. Matheny made Siegrist hands-off for a period last week because of concerns about overuse.
ST. LOUIS -- Some news and notes from down in the Cardinals' farm system:
• Sam Freeman, who was optioned to Triple-A to clear roster room for Jason Motte, pitched immediately upon his return to Memphis on Monday. Freeman threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and struck out three.
• Starting for Memphis on Monday, Zach Petrick threw seven scoreless innings, the deepest he's pitched in six starts since being promoted. Petrick allowed three hits, one walk and struck out three, but he did not get any run support. Memphis dropped a 1-0 decision to Colorado Springs when Jorge Rondon allowed a run in the 10th. Memphis is 1-7 in one-run games this season.
• Left-hander Kyle Hald struck out a season-high eight in Double-A Springfield's win on Monday. Hald allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings. Five different players drove in runs in the 6-2 win over Arkansas.
• Despite Internet rumors about an imminent callup for outfielder Oscar Taveras, the Cardinals' No. 1 prospect remains in Memphis, where he batted third and started in center on Tuesday. Entering the day, Taveras had driven in a run in 12 of his last 20 games and ranked second in the league (minimum 35 at-bats) with a .436 average with runners in scoring position.
• Matheny's decision to start Jon Jay over Peter Bourjos in center field on Tuesday was based on matchups. Jay entered the game 14-for-37 in his career against Arizona starter Bronson Arroyo.
• The Cardinals announced that registration has opened for the Ted Savage RBI Golf Classic, which will take place on June 10 at the Norman K. Probstein Golf Course in Forest Park (Mo.). Now in its 25th year, the golf classic raises money for the St. Louis chapter of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Program. For more information on the golf tournament and/or to register, visit cardinals.com/rbigolf.
• As part of the organization's 'Cards Win, You Save' promotion, a select number of $19 tickets have been discounted to $4 for the upcoming home series against the Royals (June 2-3) and Mets (June 16-18). Those tickets, which are in the pavilion and terrace level, will be available beginning at 10 a.m. CT on Wednesday at cardinals.com/win.
• Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who became Arizona's chief baseball officer over the weekend, did not make the trip to St. Louis.
"We got off to a terrible start," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We're trying to get it turned around and are happy to have him on to assist us. I look forward to receiving his knowledge and wisdom, and get us moving in the right direction."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.