St. Louis Cardinals Catcher Yadier Molina has Second Thumb Surgery, Out Until March


Yadier Molina will be out until after spring training starts after undergoing his second thumb surgery of the offseason.

As’s Jenifer Langosch reported on Wednesday afternoon, St. Louis Cardinals catcher recently had surgery on a ligament in his left thumb, his second operation on the thumb this offseason. Molina’s recovery will reportedly cause him to miss most of spring training, though the expectation as of now appears to be that he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season.

It’s another disappointing health setback for Molina, who averaged 137.8 games per season between 2009 and 2013 but has been troubled by injuries for the past two seasons. Molina dealt with a torn ligament in his right thumb that caused him to miss most of the summer in 2014.

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While he stayed strong for much of the 2015 season (though he put up his worst offensive numbers since 2006), Molina suffered the left thumb ligament injury on a play at the plate in Chicago on September 20. That injury caused him to miss the rest of the regular season, and while he tried to play through it during the first three games of the postseason, he ultimately was shut down for Game 4. Molina underwent the initial surgery to repair the thumb ligament in October, but it obviously didn’t work the way he wanted it to, and now he’s opted for a corrective operation.

Knowing what we now do about Molina’s health, it looks like an absolutely brilliant move for the Cardinals to have signed catcher Brayan Pena earlier this offseason. While the 33-year-old probably isn’t the guy you’d ideally have behind the plate in a quest to win the World Series, he’s shown that he can be durable as a starter over the past two seasons, accumulating 739 plate appearances with the Cincinnati Reds. While the Cardinals hope to have Molina healthy as the starter for the entirety of the 2016 regular season, Pena gives them a legitimate alternative if Molina ends up missing an extended period of time.

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If the Cardinals are concerned about Molina’s health heading into 2016, it’s possible that they could elect to accumulate more catching depth in order to find a suitable emergency backup for Pena. The Cardinals signed 30-year-old Eric Fryer, who has 158 big-league plate appearances, a .243 average, and a .665 career OPS over five seasons, earlier this offseason. If they don’t see Fryer as a viable big-league backup for an extended period of time, however, it might make sense for them to bring in another catcher with some big-league experience as extra depth.