It was a very short stint in the minors for Yadier Molina, who was rehabbing a thumb injury suffered at the beginning of June. Molina returns to the Cardinals on Friday after just seven weeks on the DL and two games with the the Springfield Cardinals. In those two games Molina went 5-6 with three doubles and played eleven innings.
“Ready to go,” Molina said. “Everything responded very good. The way I expected. … Right now I don’t know what the deal is, but I’m ready (to start Friday). If not Friday, then it’s this weekend. Soon. I’m ready to go.”
With Molina returning, catcher Tony Cruz was optioned to Springfield. Cruz split time with AJ Pierzynski while Molina sat out, but is the odd man out for a team lacking a power and clutch bat off the bench, a spot Pierzynski can fill. The tandem did their best during the 40-game absence of Molina, but there’s no need to keep three catchers on a roster lacking consistency in the outfield and needing more versatility on the bench.
Molina will bring back the defensive ability that many noticed missing without him. He is sure to steady the pitching staff and control the base paths, something Pierzynski and Cruz were unable to do during his absence.
The Cardinals were able to hang in the division race without Molina, something that can’t go without notice. Sure, the offense struggled without the consistency of Molina’s bat, the staff ERA skyrocketed to 4.47 without his guidance, and baserunners had their way with his replacements stealing more bags in the 40 games he missed than in the 83 games he’s played, but the Cardinals maintained a lead in the wild card and sit only 1.5 games back of the central leading Milwaukee Brewers.
Molina’s return shouldn’t be expected to turn the Cardinals into world beaters by any means, but his presence should spark the team back to playing some more consistent and competitive baseball down the final stretch of the season.