A partially torn ligament in Yadier Molina’s left thumb could keep the St. Louis Cardinals’ All-Star catcher sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Molina will be re-evaluated in five to seven days, and General Manager John Mozeliak expressed optimism that he could play again before the postseason.
“We are hopeful that he can return this season, but it will really just depend on how the next five to seven days go,” Mozeliak said. “At some point by the weekend or the early part of next week, he’ll be re-evaluated and we’ll make a decision if we think we can push forward.”
Molina suffered the injury in the eighth inning Sunday when he tagged out the Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo at the plate to complete a double play. Right fielder Jason Heyward’s one-hop throw to Molina was perfect, but Rizzo slid hard into Molina’s glove.
Molina was not able to finish the game; he was replaced by Tony Cruz.
“You see it on TV, and you are always hopeful that you’re going to get good news,” Mozeliak said. “Given what we heard after the game, I think this was the best news we could have hoped for.”
Molina slid into third base and tore a ligament in his right thumb on July 9 of last season and didn’t return until Aug. 29. This injury isn’t nearly the same in terms of severity.
“We’ll give him some rest, see how it heals and re-evaluate,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “Right now, I think it’s good news compared to what it could have been. Right now, we’ll do like we’ve done all season and just keep playing the game.”
Matheny, like Mozeliak, believes Molina could return.
“There’s a reason to have some optimism,” Matheny said. “When he slid into third base last year, there was instantly, ‘OK, this is going to be a while.’ That is not the same message we’re hearing right now. We’ll see as a little bit of time goes by how it heals and then what we’re looking at. We’ll see what the doctors say. But right now it’s not definitive that he’s going to be out for a long period of time, which for us, is good news.”
Through a club spokeman, Molina said he wouldn’t discuss the injury Monday.
Cruz will become the everyday catcher in Molina’s absense.
“It’s always tough to fill someone’s shoes when you’re as tough as Yadi is, but Cruz has had opportunities in the past, and last year he ended up being on our postseason roster because of what he showed,” Mozeliak said. “I think he’s going to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Cruz’s backups will be Ed Easley and Travis Tartamella, whose contract was purchased from Class AAA Mempis on Monday. To make room on the 40-man roster for Tartamella, first baseman Xavier Scruggs was designated for assignment. Scruggs, 27, batted .238 with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs in 109 games.
One of the backup catchers would have been Cody Stanley, but Stanley was suspended for 80 games on Sept. 12 for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Tartamella, 27, batted .203 with no homers and nine RBIs in 40 games at Memphis.
“Right now, just from a defensive standpoint, Tart is a very solid defensive catcher,” Mozeliak said. “You look at the options we have from a pinch-hitting standpoint, I think the critical part is making sure we have a defensive backup.”