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Yadier Molina swings a bat for first time since surgery for ligament tear in his right thumb

Aug 20, 2014, 11:41 PM EDT

yadier molina cardinals getty Getty Images

Yadier Molina is beginning to make some progress.

Brian Stull of STL Baseball Weekly reports that the star catcher took swings in an indoor batting cage Wednesday at Busch Stadium for the first time since tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb July 9 on an awkward side-swiping slide into third base. That injury required surgery and the Cardinals have been using A.J. Pierzynski and Tony Cruz behind the plate as they try to catch the Brewers at the top of the National League Central standings.

Molina has been catching bullpen sessions and taking light infield practice for over a week, and he may be ready for simulated action — or even a rehab assignment — by the end of August. The six-time Gold Glove Award winner and six-time National League All-Star appears to be on track to rejoin the Cardinals’ active roster around the second week of September.

  1. bfunk1978 - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    Yay! They’re scoring runs right now against a distraught Reds team but his bat has been sorely missed.

    • Reflex - Aug 21, 2014 at 1:58 AM

      I don’t see how Molina makes a huge difference. He’s not had a great season and he’s on the wrong side of thirty. They really need the young guys to step up more than they need Molina.

      • stex52 - Aug 21, 2014 at 8:23 AM

        Who says it’s the wrong side of thirty, kid?

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 21, 2014 at 9:17 AM

        He’s still pretty much unarguably the best pitch-calling, pitcher-handling catcher in the league, one of the top couple in overall defense, and even if not as good as last year offensively, still better than Cruz or Piers.

        Plus, getting Yadi back and younger batters stepping up are … it’s this concept called “mutually exclusive.”

        How moronic can you be?

        Wait, don’t answer.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 21, 2014 at 9:19 AM

        And, for the record, per B-Ref, while he’s a bit off from the last couple of years, he still had a 109 OPS+ and 1.6 oWAR (pus 1.3 dWAR) at time of injury:

      • spudchukar - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        Reflex, your post is all sorts of dumb. 6 straight years an All-Star. 6 straight Gold Gloves. 3rd in MVP voting in 2013. 4th in MVP voting in 2012. 49% caught stealing ratio, when the Cruz/Pierzynski ration is around 10%. A starting staff ERA which has ballooned since his absence.

        A 32 year-old team leader, whose older, and in much worse conditioned brothers, have played into their 36th and 39th years, who has shown no visible decline, wouldn’t be missed by the 2014 Cards? Ask the teams St. Louis plays in the next 38 games or so if they think the Cards aren’t markedly improved by his return?

      • stex52 - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        I happen to be a huge Molina fan, so take what I say with this. It’ll be great to see him back, but Reflex is right that he is not going to turn the tide by himself. He makes them better, easy call. But right now they are suffering a power outage that is going to limit their potential and pitcher injuries that are giving them rotation problems.

        Great to see Yadi back, but they will need more to get anywhere in the playoffs this year.

      • grumpyoleman - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        Yeah there is no way those young guys could learn anything from a veteran with that type of resume playing beside them 😦

      • Reflex - Aug 21, 2014 at 3:58 PM

        stex gets my point. I never said that getting Yadi back is not good for the Cards. I said that he isn’t going to be the difference maker. If Taveras, Wong and others were stepping up to their enormous potential, the loss of Yadi would not have meant much. And honestly for all the talk of pitch calling and defense, neither of those areas have been problematic while he has been gone, pitcher health and offense are their issues and Yadi has nothing to do with the first and only a marginal impact on the second (he hits well, but he hits well for a *catcher*, they need the rest of the lineup to step up).

        Yes I know its bad to say anything that does not imply Yadi is the most important guy on the team, but honestly he is not. He is one of nine position players. Wainwright is the most important guy on that team and he’s been pulling his weight. After that they really need their young guys to step up.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 21, 2014 at 6:01 PM

        You’re still not getting it, per your follow-up. As a catcher, Yadi handles the whole staff. Maybe Waino is fine pitching to other catchers, but for pitch-calling, pitch-framing and more, Yadi adds value to all the other pitchers’ efforts.

        He’s been playing more than well enough, all around, to be an important add. And, one who’s a more realistic boost than some bats catching fire that much more this late in the season.

      • Reflex - Aug 21, 2014 at 7:12 PM

        Again, nobody is claiming Yadi isn’t a fine catcher. But the things you credit him for are really marginal in their overall impact, and that’s pretty easily demonstrated by noting that pitchers like Wainwright are just as good when Yadi is not behind the plate.

        Will the team improve with Yadi vs AJ? Sure. Will it be some leap that makes them a contender? No. If they make the playoffs it will be either because the rest of the division fell apart, or because the rest of the bats woke up. Yadi is good for maybe one more win above replacement the rest of the way, that is unlikely to be the difference maker.

        And again, in perspective, Yadi has had a good couple of years, but he was a slightly above average catcher before that, and based on his first half this season he is returning to that level now. Which makes sense, he is 31, and catchers do not wear well for obvious reasons.

      • stlouis1baseball - Aug 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        You can’t be serious Reflex
        If so…I will just state that we need to only refer to comments made by the Cardinals pitching staff, his teammates, coaches and even opponents.

      • Reflex - Aug 22, 2014 at 11:04 AM

        What have I said that is in conflict with what others who play with and around him have said? I pointed out he has been an elite catcher for two seasons, and an above average one for several seasons before that. I pointed out that this season was definitely a downturn, even without the injury. I pointed out that he is on the wrong side of 30 and that catchers don’t age well.

        Which of these things conflicts with anything said by his teammates, coaches or opponents?

  2. prov1x - Aug 21, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    Uh….maybe because he’s the best catcher in the league?

    • Reflex - Aug 21, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      This year that would be Jonathan Lucroy. Last year it was Molina. The year before that it was Posey. Yadi is good, but really there are a few really good catchers in the NL right now. Its not open and shut.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 21, 2014 at 6:03 PM

        Actually, by WAR (B-Ref) Posey had less than half a point advantage in 2012. Given Mollina’s known edge in pitch-framing, I wouldn’t say Posey was better in 2012.

      • Reflex - Aug 21, 2014 at 7:08 PM

        You are welcome to your opinion of course, but I disagree. Yadier is a very good catcher, one of the best in the game over the past two seasons. Prior to that he was a bit above average with good defense. And based on his season so far this year, that is what he has returned to.

        Yadi is good but he’s not a future HoFer, so the worship of him just seems really misplaced. Pudge retired only two years ago and he was superior to Yadi in every single aspect of the game and position.

      • stlouis1baseball - Aug 22, 2014 at 5:39 PM

        The part about him not making much of a difference.
        I about fell out of my chair.
        That’s hard to do Reflex. I sit in a big ass chair!

      • Reflex - Aug 22, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        Assuming he came back on Sept 1st and performed at the star level he performed at last season that would give him about 1 bWAR for the remainder of the season. One win is not a tremendous difference. And both of the assumptions I just gave are assuming things that are likely not going to occur (returning by Sept 1st/performing at an elite level).

        So yes it is very reasonable to state that Molina will not make much of a difference at this stage. There are very few players who could make much of a difference at this stage. And as I pointed out, getting one or two of their young players to step up this season would be huge, and much more likely to propel them into the playoffs.

  3. wannabeGM - Aug 21, 2014 at 7:28 AM

    Reblogged this on stlcardinalsminimo and commented:
    good news

  4. delusionalcubsfan - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Hope he’s back soon. And this is coming from a Cubs fan. You gotta respect Molina, he’s great.

  5. spudchukar - Aug 21, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Look for Molina’s return to be September 4th.

  6. cincinata - Aug 21, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    I think the birds will make the playoff’s. Fans cannot put too much into he last 7 games, as they took on a poor Reds team which is not hitting now and the pitching is lagging. Then the 3 of 4 games against a weak SD team is not such great feat at home. It might be different if they did that in SD. Right now, they are hitting and driving in runs with decent pitching. Of course, Molina is the best catcher in baseball. However, do not get too excited over this just yet. If he came back say on August 1, he may make a big difference. Look what happened in Cinti with Phillips. He came back after the hand injury and it is not expected to really contribute for another two or three weeks after getting back into playing shape. And, if Votto ever gets back this season, we don’t expect big things from him right away. So, where does that put Molina? Lets say he comes back on 9/4 as stated. Will he make a difference before 9/20? Well there is a lot going on between now and then. The birds must keep winning without Molina now, or if they don’t, will find themselves unable to catch up by the end of the season. When Molina comes back, Do Not expect him to hit .300 plus and throw out all runners etc. It may take him a few weeks just to get back into playing shape and get his hitting swing back. I think their next series is in Philly. If they take two of three there, you may be optimistic. Personally I feel that the Reds are dead for this season, but the cards are not automatically in just yet.

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