By: Jim Tsapelas
Not since the third game on the NL Division series has Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina participated in a competitive game.
This spring, Yadier Molina reported to camp, early, sans the cast which had been on his left thumb since his second offseason surgery. As Cardinal Nation well knows, On September 20, 2015, during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Molina reportedly tore a ligament in his thumb. Molina was attempting to apply a tag on Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo on a close play at home. Rizzo’s foot clipped Molina’s glove and damaged his thumb. It was a clean play on both Rizzo’s and Molina’s intentions and attempts. However, unfortunately for Molina and the Cardinals it effectively ended his regular season.
Being the gritty veteran and team leader that he is Molina, who is thirty-three, attempted to play through the injury in the NLDS against the Cubs. Molina had been fitted with a special supportive brace in an attempt to protect his thumb from further injury.
The three games in which he appeared in the NLDS, Molina was largely ineffective, offensively; and demonstrated some difficulties defensively. Molina sat out the Cardinals’ postseason ending loss in Game Four. The next day, Molina experienced his first thumb surgery of the 2015 post-season which had proven to be unsuccessful. Molina is predicting he shall be the Cardinals Opening Day Starting catcher.
Wednesday, in the bottom of the second inning, Molina who has yet to be cleared to swing a bat, was tested defensively. Molina took a throw from center-fielder Randal Grichuk. Molina applied a swipe tag to Justin Bour. This was quite similar to the same play involving the Cubs and Anthony Rizzo that injured Molina late last season.
Cardinal starter, Mike Leake, acquired in the offseason from the San Francisco Giants, threw two scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two.
The game was defensively sloppy for both teams; with the exception of the Molina play at the pate, with the Cardinals committing three errors and the Marlins committing two. On a brighter note, the Redbirds executed four double plays; Miami secured two double plays.
Miami out hit St. Louis thirteen to nine in claiming the five to three victory. Offensively, Justin Wisdom and Tommy Pham contributed the three Cardinal RBI’s; with Wisdom hitting his first home run of Grapefruit League play.
Getting the Miami win was Adam Conley (1-0). Taking the Cardinal loss was Marco Gonzales (0-1). Gonzales threw the third inning allowing two hits, one earned run, while walking one. The Marlins’ Jarlin Garcia picked up his first save of the spring throwing the ninth inning allowing one hit and striking out one.
Thursday the Cardinals travel to Tradition Field to meet the New York Mets. Jamie Garcia (0-0) faces the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (0-0) at 12:10 CST.
Spring Training Odds and Ends:
At the end of Wednesday’s play, St. Louis is tied with the American League East team Boston Red Sox for fifth place in the Grapefruit League with identical 4-3 records.
Jhonny Peralta’s thumb injury is possibly going to keep him sidelined for the first-two to three months of the regular season.
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