Here is how the face of the franchise is doing so far in spring.
One of the biggest stories surrounding the Cardinals heading into Spring Training was the health of All-Star catcher Yadier Molina. This offseason, Molina underwent two surgeries on his thumb, the last coming only in December. The team planned to be super cautious with Molina throughout Spring Training, as Manager Mike Matheny has reiterated that the goal is to avoid aggravating that surgically repaired thumb.
In our last update with Molina, it seems as if he wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day in Pittsburgh on April 3rd. However, recently, all of the signs have pointed to Molina making a full recovery and being ready to go when the Cardinals open to defend their NL Central title.
On Wednesday, Molina made his Spring Training debut and caught three innings, but did not bat. He was 9th in the batting order and was pulled from the game before his plate appearance. In his debut, he did have one close play at home where he made a sweeping tag on a runner. Much to Cardinal’s fans dismay who are just praying that he doesn’t hurt himself again, Molina didn’t want to make himself a liability to his team just because of his thumb. Molina said “You’ve got to be in game shape. It’s so important to know the pitchers. I want to be back there.”
On Friday, in his second appearance, Molina caught five innings. but he did not have a true batting attempt. Matheny placed Molina 9th in lineup and, in his only plate appearance, he stepped up and took three strikes for a strikeout.
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Molina, at this point, has been cleared to resume all activities everything except batting. However, he has been taking batting practice off of a machine, as early as Thursday, which is very encouraging news. The next step in his recovery will to hit off soft-tosses. He isn’t expected to bat in a game for another week.
Cardinals fans should be optimistic. Matheny wouldn’t send Molina out there unless he was absolutely confident that Molina could handle it and that the playing time wouldn’t be a threat to reinjuring the thumb. All signs are pointing towards Molina being ready for Opening Days. Get excited Cardinals fans. If we have any aspirations of winning another NL Central title, Molina will be a key contributor.