Mar 24, 2010, 2:43 PM EDT
Yadier Molina left today’s game after straining his oblique muscle running the bases. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that he legged out a double and then was on his way home on a David Freese single when Molina pulled up lame, exiting with a trainer by his side.
Jason LaRue replaced him and would step into the lineup as the Cardinals’ starter if Molina were to begin the season on the disabled list, but losing him would be a huge blow. Not only did Molina lead all of baseball by starting 136 games behind the plate last season, he did so while hitting .293/.366/.383 and throwing out 41 percent of steal attempts.
Beyond that LaRue turned 36 years old last week and is an awful hitter at this point, batting a combined .194 with a lowly .610 OPS in four seasons since losing his starting gig in Cincinnati. He’s palatable as a little-used backup, but if pressed into extended duty things could get ugly. Hummel speculates that Molina may only be out for a week or so, but oblique injuries are often tough to predict.