MRI on Molina's right knee is negative; Cardinals catcher battling inflammation

News-DemocratJuly 7, 2013 

— An MRI exam taken Saturday on St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina's right knee revealed only inflammation.

Molina was out of the lineup Sunday, but could return Tuesday when the Cardinals play host to the Houston Astros. Molina also didn't play Saturday in the team's 5-4 win over Miami.

"Everything is good to go," Molina said Sunday morning. "When you're a catcher, pain is going to come up because you're doing a lot of stuff back there. Right now, I've got some inflammation (in) there. But with some pills, I'll be OK in a couple of days. Hopefully, I'll be back on Tuesday."

Tony Cruz started for Molina on Saturday and Sunday, with Ty Wigginton serving as the emergency backup. Molina's injury initially was diagnosed as right-knee irritation.

If Molina still is experiencing discomfort Tuesday, the Cardinals might have to consider making a roster move. But Molina, who underwent surgery on the same knee Sept. 24, 2007, doesn't believe it will get to that point.

"It feels better," he said of the knee. "I think with a couple of more days, it will be OK. It's looser. I was worried at first, but when the (MRI) picture came up, everything was good. It was just inflammation, and I was really, really, really relieved."

Molina even said he would be available Sunday if manager Mike Matheny needed him. Matheny wasn't surprised by that pronouncement, but is targeting Tuesday for Molina's return.

"It was a good report," Matheny said of the MRI. "We'll move forward and have the trainers stay on top of it. ... We'll continue to monitor how he's feeling and how he's progressing with the medical people."

Matheny doesn't want to think about how a long-term loss of Molina would affect the Cardinals.

"It's definitely something that's worrisome when he's such a valuable member of our team. There's no question about it," Matheny said. "It's best to get it looked at, know what you're dealing with and be able to move forward from there."

Matheny, a former catcher, understands that Molina regularly plays through various types of discomfort. But when Molina was concerned enough to talk about a particular ailment, Matheny became fearful the injury could be significant.

"There's a lot of beating up that goes with that position," Matheny said. "There's days and periods of time when it gets to you worse than others. He's usually dealing with some sort of pain; that comes with the job. But when it gets his attention like that, you definitely stop and want to make sure you have it covered."

Molina is batting a National-League best .346 and has been voted by fans as the starter in the All-Star game on July 16 at Citi Field in New York. He was the No. 1 vote-getter in the NL.

"I want to play in that game. It's a great honor to be there," Molina said. "All my family is going to be there watching me and watching our team try to win the game. That's the main goal."

Molina is taking his offensive success in stride. He dismisses all talk of a possible batting championship, but said the foundation for his improvement at the plate is hard work.

"Like I've said before, a bunch of times, I've work hard to be in this position right now," Molina said. "I'm glad it's happening right now, but this game is up and down. Some days, you're going to have good days. Some days, you're going to have bad days.

"I'm glad to be in this position right now, with my team winning games. That's the main goal for me. ... If you're a baseball player, you want to be there when your team needs you."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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