St. Louis Cardinals

August 15, 2014

Molina restless but on the mend; Robinson plays for Taveras again

It comes as no surprise that Yadier Molina is growing impatient even as his recovery moves forward at a brisk pace.

"My goal, I would play right now," the St. Louis Cardinals catcher said Friday. "But what (doctors) say is I need time; my thumb needs time. That's what they've been telling me. So I can't tell you, really, what the day is (that I will return)."

Friday was the five-week mark since Molina underwent surgery to repair the torn ligament in his right thumb. He was expected to be sidelined up to 12 weeks, but there's a possibility he could return as early as the first week of September.

Molina, who said he is pain-free, already has caught two bullpen sessions --from Adam Wainwright on Thursday and Justin Masterson on Friday. Each time, he made return throws with a brace protecting the thumb.

"Feeling good --way better than I expected," Molina said. "I don't use this (right) hand except for throwing. Catching was OK. A little rough, but everything was good."

A big key will be how Molina's thumb feels when he grips a bat, which he expects to attempt next week.

"I can't wait to grab a bat and see how the hand reacts to it," Molina said. "If I can't hit, I can't help the team. It's going to be the key, I think. If I can grip the bat and swing the bat, that's a good sign."

Molina also said next week likely will be the first time he makes throws without the brace.

The Cardinals are 14-14 since Molina suffered the injury July 9 in a slide at third base against Pittsburgh. They began Friday trailing first-place Milwaukee by two games in the NL Central.

"It's tough," Molina said of missing so much time. "Every time you miss games and you're not there with the team and not helping the team, it's tough. But right now, I can do nothing else but prepare myself and be ready for the comeback."

Molina said he doesn't enjoy watching games on TV.

"I get nervous. I get anxious," he said. "It's bad. I can watch a whole game. I bite my nails."

More sugar for Shane

Backup outfielder Shane Robinson, who has been up and down between the big leagues and the minors this season, made his seventh start Friday. It was the first time Robinson had made consecutive starts.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said it was a reward for Robinson's strong game Thursday that included a single, a running catch in right-center and an assist on a ninth-inning throw to the plate that nailed the potential tying run. St. Louis held on for a 4-3 win over San Diego.

"Shane had a great day yesterday," Matheny said. "When we give some of the guys who have had some different roles, mostly support roles, an opportunity and they have a great day ... Shane was a difference-maker in that game (Thursday) night.

"You saw the arm, you watch the speed, you watch the instincts --and he can hit. Cardinals fans have seen that off and on. We just haven't been able to get him in there on a consistent basis. But he understands his role and he's done a great job with it."

Another reason to play Robinson, Matheny said, was to get struggling Oscar Taveras more time to observe from the bench. Matheny said Taveras will start at least one of the final two games of the series against San Diego.

Packers pay visit

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Jordy Nelson stood in front of the dugout and watched the Cardinals take batting practice.

Several Cardinals players gravitated toward Rodgers and Nelson, including Adam Wainwright, A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Motte and Shelby Miller.

The Packers will play the Rams in a preseason game Saturday at Edward Jones Dome.

Ice-bucket challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge has become a national phenomenon, helping raise awareness for ALS.

Matheny and General Manager John Mozeliak accepted challenges Friday, with Matheny dousing Mozeliak with a cooler of ice water and Mozeliak accommodating Matheny.

Matheny was challenged by Rams coach Jeff Fisher. Since he didn't accept Fisher's challenge within the required 24 hours, Matheny had to pay $100 to a charity of his choice that promotes ALS awareness.

Cardinals Hall of Fame

Marty Marion, Mike Shannon, Willie McGee and Jim Edmonds will be enshrined in the Cardinals Hall of Fame at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Ballpark Village. They will join the inaugural 22 members of the Hall of Fame, which opened this year.

Fans wanting to attend the event will be admitted for $18.

KMOX-AM 1120 will broadcast the event on a delayed basis at 4 p.m. Saturday. Fox Sports Midwest will air the ceremony seven times between Sunday and Aug. 30.

Matheny played with Edmonds from 2000-04.

"Everybody remembers all the crazy catches over the shoulders," Matheny said. "There were a lot of times I walked off the field and told him, 'That was the best baseball play I've ever seen.' He changed games for us."

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

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