The St. Louis Cardinals definitely could use another right handed bat. So it's great news that catcher Yadier Molina is expected to return today from the disabled list.
I just hope he's capable of swinging the bat at 100 percent after tearing a ligament in his thumb during a freak accident while sliding into third base. He's done well hitting in a rehab assignment at Class AA Springfield. But he didn't face the sort of pitchers there that he will in the big leagues. And then there is the fact that he's going to probably have some issues with timing because of his long layoff. A handful of mid minor league at bats aren't going to get him up to speed like a full rehab assignment would.
Molina started off the 2014 season red hot. But he's not been his usual self at the plate, for the most part, this year. Yadi is hitting .287 this year, not bad for a catcher, but it would be the first time since 2010 that he's failed to his .300 and 32 points lower than his .319 average last season.
In April Yadi hit .350 with four homers and 15 RBI. But in May he hit .266 and in June he hit .210. Things had started to turn around in July when the perennial all-star hit .357 in nine games before his injury.
I'm hopeful that, instead of the potentially still sore thumb dragging down his offense that the month and a half of rest will bring back a refreshed Molina who can give the team a big offensive shove.
It will be interesting to see how the addition of Yadi to the active roster will affect the bench. I'd like to see the Cardinals keep AJ Pierzynski, who was signed to replace Yadi while he was disabled, as a pinch hitter who could catch a game or two a week to give Molina a break if his thumb gets sore.
The Cardinals don't have a lot of veteran bench bats to turn to. At least none with a reasonable amount of pop. Pierzynski has that. And we would allow the Birds more flexibility by giving the team a third catching option. Manager Mike Matheny doesn't like to use his backup in games out of fear that, if he is injured, the club will have nowhere else to turn.
If it was Sept. 1, the decision would be a no-brainer because the roster will have expanded to 40 players. But the Cardinals will have to send someone down -- at least for a couple of days -- if Pierzynski is kept.