A 102-mph fastball redirected by a foul tip into the groin of Yadier Molina will force the eight-time All-Star out of the St. Louis Cardinals lineup for at least a month.
Molina had emergency surgery after the Cardinals' 10-inning win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. The Cardinals placed him on the 10-day disabled list, describing the injury as a pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma.
Carson Kelly was recalled from triple-A Memphis to assume his place on the roster.
The injury occurred in the top of the ninth inning when Cubs third-baseman Kris Bryant, who was leading off the inning, grazed the pitch from St. Louis rookie reliever Jordan Hicks. Molina crumbled in agony, delaying the game for several minutes as teammates and team medical staff gathered around him.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Several times it appeared that Molina, who has batted fifth in the Cardinals' lineup, attempted to stay in the game. Ultimately, he walked off the field on his own power.
"There was no place to go," said said manager Mike Matheny, a former catcher, following the game. "He was just trying to get the ability to breath back ...
"That was a bad one and those don't necessarily feel better tomorrow."
Molina, who recently passed Hall of Famer Johnny Bench on the all-time list for games (1,745) and innings (14,627.0) caught, is batting .272 with six home runs and 17 RBIs.
Kelly was scratched from the lineup before the Memphis Redbirds' Pacific Coast League game in Nashville on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old is the Cardinals' third-highest rated prospect and spent the majority of spring training in the major league camp. The organization elected to let him play every day in triple-A Memphis, rather than advance him to St. Louis to serve as Molina's backup.
He was batting .234 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 21 games in Memphis. He's appeared in 44 major league games over the last two seasons.
Fernando Pena, who finished the game behind the plate Saturday, will remain as backup.
The Cardinals had other lineup scratches due to injuries Saturday.
Centerfielder Tommy Pham exited the game after the first inning due to recurring tightness in his groin. He had taken an odd path to a warning-track fly ball by Bryant in the top of the inning, then walked and stole a base in the bottom half. That's when the muscle "grabbed," Matheny said.
"You could tell something was going on because of the jumps," he said. "He didn't tell us something was going on until it was too late. We're going to have to try to get ahead of it now."
Rookie Harrison Bader filled in for Pham, twice reaching base and scoring runs in the tight game. He also ranged far in centerfield to record four putouts.
Closer Bud Norris, also was removed from the game after two-thirds an inning in the ninth. He complained of tightness in the triceps of his throwing arm.
Norris and Pham's status was unclear as of Sunday morning.
The Cardinals on Saturday announced that relief pitcher Dominic Leone would be placed on the 10-day disabled list. Matheny had Leone warmed up in the bullpen Friday and intended to bring him into the game with one out and a runner on second in the eighth inning.
Mike Mayers, 26, was recalled from Memphis in time for the series finale against the Cubs on unday night.
He has appeared in four games for the Cardinals already this season, allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings pitched, including a three-inning save at Cincinnati on April 12. He’s also pitched in four games for Memphis this year, logging 6 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts.
Luke Gregerson pitched around the jam instead, however, when Leone complained of spasms in his biceps.