New manager avoids intrigue with new closer

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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Jason Motte has already gotten a public vote of confidence from his manager.

Motte, who played a prominent role in the Cardinals' run to the 2011 World Series title, never could get former manager Tony La Russa to publicly acknowledge his role as the closer.

La Russa's intention was to avoid heaping undue pressure on Motte. New manager Mike Matheny believes it's time for hard throwing right-hander to seize the role, and said early in camp that Motte was his closer.

Matheny said he understood La Russa's reasoning last season, but said he couldn't overlook Motte's success on the biggest stage.