Motte will likely start season on disabled list

McGee, Qualls, Castro are candidates to close out games

Motte will likely start season on disabled list

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies righty reliever Jason Motte is battling a right shoulder strain, and he will likely begin the regular season on the 15-day disabled list.

Motte experienced soreness during his most recent outing, a scoreless inning Thursday against the Mariners. An MRI revealed the injury.

"He's going to be down for a little bit," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I don't see it being for a long time, but we've got him down for the time being."

Weiss had not revealed the identity of his closer, although Motte -- who signed a two-year, $10 million contract during the offseason -- figured to be part of the plan, if not the main closer. Motte earned 42 saves for the Cardinals in 2012 before undergoing Tommy John surgery in '13.

Last year, in a bounce-back season for the Cubs, Motte went 8-1 with a 3.91 ERA and six saves, though he was not on the postseason roster because of right shoulder fatigue. But he was throwing simulated games during the playoffs. He might have been activated had the Cubs made the World Series.

Motte was 0-1 with a 9.53 ERA in six Spring Training outings. Four of the runs came in an outing against the Giants on March 20.

Motte, 33, said the good news is the pain is in the back shoulder area, as opposed to the sub-scapular area (lower in the back shoulder) where last year's problem arose, and the strength of the rest of his arm is not affected. Motte is resting and will soon begin strengthening exercises. He said neither he nor the Rockies are placing a timetable on his return.

"I don't worry about much," Motte said. "Like I said with my elbow and the other thing, it'll work out the way it's supposed to."

Lefty Jake McGee, who was even more effective against right-handed batters (.190 batting average against) than lefties (.224) in 297 career appearances with the Rays (2010-15), could step in as closer. Righty Chad Qualls, who has 74 career saves, also could be in play.

Another candidate could be power right-hander Miguel Castro, 21, who earned four early-season saves with the Blue Jays last season and joined the Rockies in the Troy Tulowitzki deal. Castro began his Spring Training with five straight scoreless outings, but in his two most recent outings before Wednesday, he gave up three runs, all on solo homers. He has given up six hits total, with eight strikeouts against no walks.

Earlier in the spring, Weiss did not include Castro as a closer candidate. But Castro was considered a prime candidate for the Opening Day roster, because he can provide some of the power the Rockies lost when Jairo Diaz needed to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Story wins Abby Greer Award

Rockies rookie Trevor Story, who will make his Major League debut Monday as the starting shortstop, was awarded the 13th annual Abby Greer Award as the Rockies' Spring Training Most Valuable Player (with an emphasis on players developed by the club). Story went into Wednesday's game against the Brewers with a 1.362 OPS. The award is named after Greer, who was 6 when she died in a tragic accident near Coors Field.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.