ST. LOUIS -- It has been a life-changing year for Jason Motte. One that opened with the birth of his first child and the signing of his first multiyear contract closed with a Caribbean vacation and wisdom teeth surgery. In between, Motte lost a baseball season due to an elbow injury but gained perspective through new relationships and his cancer outreach efforts.
With 2013 nearing an end, Motte took some time to talk with MLB.com about his family's holiday plans. He also provided an update on his rehab work and discussed how his outlook has changed this Christmas.
MLB.com: This will be the first Christmas for your little girl, Margaret. What do you most look forward to about celebrating the holiday season with her this year?
Motte: It's going to be awesome. It makes everything that much more special having her -- even now getting Christmas presents, putting them under the tree. We went and saw Santa Claus, and didn't even have any freak outs. We are spending Christmas here in Memphis. This year being Margaret's first Christmas we wanted to do all the normal things we always do. She won't remember it, but we'll have pictures and videos that we can show her one day.
MLB.com: Can you give us a glimpse of what Christmas was like in the Motte household growing up?
Motte: It was a pretty typical Christmas. We always actually ended up opening presents on Christmas Eve. Then you'd wake up Christmas Day and Santa had come. That's the way we always did it. One of the Christmases I remember most was when my brother and I got a Nintendo, one of the original ones. We thought it was so cool.
MLB.com: What is on your Christmas wish list this year?
Motte: I don't know. I think since we have had a daughter, everything shifts to her. I'm pretty easy. Me and my wife, we have some stuff to finish doing to furnish our house. That is Christmas to us. We moved into a new house last year in July, but between our first Strike Out Cancer event, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, having Margaret and going to Spring Training, we didn't have much time to get settled. When we got home this year, I said we have to start being adults and get stuff in the house.
Otherwise, my wife says I'm always hard to buy for because if I see something I want, I usually just buy it. Then she says, "Great, now I don't have anything to get you." I've learned the last couple of years that when it comes about this time, I need to hold off and wait a couple of weeks. Then it might give her something to buy.
MLB.com: What is the worst gift you have ever been given?
Motte: Our parents would put out gifts early, so we would stare at the tree for weeks. One year, a couple days before Christmas, my dad said we could open one. I remember my younger brother and I picking the big box that was heaviest. I thought it was going to be awesome. We opened the box, and it was a bowling ball.
It was cool because we did go bowling, not that we were any good because all our time was spent on baseball. But when you open up this huge box -- and Dad had put it in a box two or three times the size and packed it up -- we thought it was going to be something awesome. It wasn't as exciting as what I thought it might have been. But at least we used it.
MLB.com: Shortly after the end of the season, you hosted your second annual Strike Out Cancer event in Memphis. Can you share some details about the event, the turnout and amount of money raised for charity?
Motte: I think this year went better than last year. We had different items that we auctioned off. We had some Strike Out Cancer posters, probably about five or six, that [my teammates] who were on the poster were nice enough to sign. We had jerseys, balls, bats, hats, a NASCAR care package and other items.
We had 185-190 people the first year, and this year, we had close to 230. We raised over $50,000 with the event. This year we split up the proceeds between the WINGS (Cancer) Foundation here in Memphis and the West Clinic. The West Clinic is involved in cancer research. And WINGS is one of the nonprofit organizations that gives wigs, blankets and other things to the patients.
MLB.com: Have you already developed plans for additional cancer-related initiatives next year?
Motte: We're going to try to do something up in St. Louis. We've talked to people since the season ended to figure out more details about how to maybe plan a race next year. We've tossed some other ideas around, too. I'm sure we'll be doing stuff not just with (the Jason Motte Foundation), but also trying to help others out.
I think we're also going to try to get the (Strike Out Cancer) T-shirts out in different colors for different teams. I've talked to Jason Grilli, Skip Schumaker, John Axford and Jon Lester about how they can get involved in helping with that in other cities. Hopefully people see that we're not just out there playing baseball, caring only about ourselves. I want to make a difference and help out in any way I can.
MLB.com: Can you provide an update on your offseason throwing program and where you are in your rehab back from Tommy John surgery?
Motte: I stopped throwing the Monday before Thanksgiving (as scheduled), but before that had thrown several bullpens. Right now, I'm working out and building arm strength. I'm also spending time with my family. I'm just trying to relax a little bit before getting back into it. I think I'm going to head to Spring Training in the middle of January. Before that, I'll start playing catch again to build myself back up.
If everything goes exactly like it should, I am on schedule to throw to hitters in March. It won't be in a game, but it will be another step forward. What I've found through this whole process, it's about how you recover and how you feel. I go out there every day doing what I can to get better that day and then see how I feel afterward and then the next day. If I feel fine, I take a step forward. I have to take the time I need to be where I need to be.
MLB.com: What will you remember most about 2013?
Motte: We had our daughter in January, and I knew from the moment I had her that I had a different feeling about life. Getting hurt and being able to spend more time with her, watch her crawl, pull up, start to jabber words, it has been awesome.
And just Brandt (Ballenger, a nine-year-old friend who died from cancer in July). Baseball is great, but baseball is baseball. There are way more important things out there. Being able to be with my family and my little girl was awesome, but getting to spend time with Brandt and his family, I wouldn't have traded any of it for getting one out or one save. The relationships I've made this year are going to stick with me and have changed me. If I wouldn't have gotten hurt, I wouldn't have been able to experience all of those things.
MLB.com: With the new year approaching, what are you most looking forward to in 2014?
Motte: Baseball is what I have done, what I have always done. I think on that front, it's going out there and helping put some Ws up on the board. I realize there is many things more important than baseball, but also that there are people in hospitals and children battling cancer who are big Cardinal fans and they sit there and watch the games. If you help the Cardinals win, you can help put a smile on their face.
Off the field, I look forward to doing more with our foundation, creating the different colored shirts, planning new events, raising more money, getting more awareness out there for this terrible disease. I just want to do all I can do to help others out. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.