Another day, another day in the starting lineup for Yadier Molina.
The 33-year-old St. Louis Cardinals catcher played in his 28th game of the year Thursday — he’s missed only one game — as the Redbirds defeated Philadelphia to win three of four in the series with the Phillies.
Molina doubled, walked and scored a run, leaving him at .323 with eight two-baggers, 10 runs scored aand a .407 on-base percentage this year.
Molina got a night off from catching duties Wednesday, when he played first base for most of the Cardinals’ come-from-behind 5-4 win. He finished behind the plate, though, where he has played a club-record 1,463 games for the Cardinals in his 12 years with the team.
Never miss a local story.
With that much squatting in the gear behind the plate, a night at first base qualifies almost as a day off, Cardinals manager (and former catcher) Mike Matheny said Thursday
“I guess two-thirds of a game, call it maybe,” Matheny said. “I don’t have this like formula put together that he has to have certain days (to rest). I think it becomes obvious. We’re making an effort to get him (time off). I let him know the night before, so it’s a different sleep sometimes. too. Which I think adds up.”
Matheny had hoped to get Molina more rest this season, at least before backup catcher Brayan Pena came down with a knee injury in spring training and the Cardinals had to call on the little-used Eric Fryer as Molina’s understudy. Upon Pena’s return, Molina will perhaps get more rest — and a break from the mental grind of calling every pitch and thinking ahead on every opposing hitter.
“(If) you’re not starting, you get to come in late,” Matheny said, “and you get all that night and then during the day to kind of take a different routine and not grind so much in your mind. I think there’s value to that. But we push him hard in general and are going to continue to until it doesn’t look right.”
A chess match (really)
As he talked to the media, Wong carefully placed all the chess pieces back at their proper place on the board, one of three scattered around the clubhouse.
“We’ve got a group of guys who like to play,” Wong groused playfully. “But they don’t like to pick up after themselves. That’s not how I am, so I have to be the daddy, sometimes.”
Matheny, who took up the game as he tried to find mental challenges to help him recover from concussions suffered during his career, is glad to see a growing number of players making maneuvers on a chess board instead of hitting the screen on a smartphone or a tablet.
“I think it’s terrific,” Matheny said. “It’s fun to watch these guys, you look at that and (it’s) better than grabbing an iPad and surfing around or playing a video game.”
Game No. 29, lineup No. 26
Matheny used the afternoon game after the night game Wednesday to get some playing time for a handful of Cardinals who need it, while resting left fielder Matt Holliday, center fielder Randal Grichuk and shortstop Almedys Diaz.
In their stead: Brandon Moss in left, Jeremy Hazelbaker in center and Ruben Tejada at first.
Those carefully laid plans came a cropper in the fifth inning Thursday, when Matheny had to pull Adams from the field after the first baseman suffered a knee contusion when Phils first baseman Darin Ruf tripped over Adams’ foot on the base on a 1-6 play to end the first inning.
Four innings later, Grichuck went into the game in center, Moss moved to first and Hazelbaker took over in left. The move was described as cautionary, and it is not known how long Adams might miss.
“This is just how our team is put together,” said Matheny, who has used 26 different lineups in the Cards’ 29 games. “We know we’d be wasting these guys if we didn’t keep them more involved.”