Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Notes: All Signs Point to Molina Starting Opener

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Notes: All Signs Point to Molina Starting Opener

Article excerpt

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. * He declined the chance to make a formal announcement, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny made it sound all but certain catcher Yadier Molina will make his 12th consecutive opening day start come April 3.

Molina has checked all necessary boxes on his way back from two offseason operations on his left thumb that resulted in him wearing a cast until late last month.

"He's ready," Matheny said before Molina made his ninth start of the spring in Friday's 5-5 tie with the Mets. "We will continue to monitor strength and keep testing him, but right now everything is in a good spot."

The act of catching had not been a concern for a while. Hitting, and the hand strength it requires, were murkier situations. Things have progressed smoothly since Molina received clearance one week ago to start swinging in games.

Molina was three for five with a walk in his past two games before an 0-for-three day Friday. He initially described his timing at the plate as "terrible." It's improving.

"That was something we didn't know exactly until we got down here (to spring training)," Matheny said. "And then you don't know too, once he does start to make those steps forward, what that swing is going to look like. Is he going to favor it? Is strength still an issue? All of those were pleasant surprises."

So, pencil in Molina against the Pirates in Pittsburgh?

"You can make whatever kind of projections you want," Matheny said. "There is nothing left for him to check off. So, he's just one of our other players."

The Cardinals will probably have just two catchers on the opening day roster, Molina and backup Brayan Pena.


On March 10, shortstop Ruben Tejada played for the Mets against the Cardinals at Tradition Field. His third start as a Cardinal came at the same place, against the team that let him go.

Tejada went two for three and was the first baserunner against Noah Syndergaard with a one-out single in the third. He helped turn two double plays and tagged out a stealing Curtis Granderson on a throw from Molina. Matheny wasn't upset about the play Tejada missed a hard-hit Kevin Plawecki grounder that found the outfield. …

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