St. Louis Cardinals

All systems are go for Molina’s return to playing

Wednesday provided another hopeful overtone for the St. Louis Cardinals in their desire to have All-Star catcher Yadier Molina available for the National League Division Series.

Indications became stronger that Molina will indeed be on the roster after being fitted Tuesday with a splint that will protect the injured ligament in his left thumb.

“I’m much more optimistic today than, say, when we were in Atlanta,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday. “With what he was able to do (Tuesday) and some of the things he’s been able to do with the medical team in stabilizing the thumb ... all those things are pointing in the direction that it’s possible (Molina will be available).”

On Tuesday, Molina hit, caught and blocked pitches and threw. On Wednesday, he fielded grounders at first base and caught Michael Wacha’s bullpen session.

Molina didn’t speak to the media after a two-hour workout Wednesday, but Matheny said the splint seems to be working admirably when Molina is catching.

“What the splint does is help eliminate those miscaught balls,” Matheny said. “Usually, those aren’t necessarily an error on the catcher as much of a foul tip or something you can’t control that takes (the ball) off course from where it would naturally go. The splint is going to hopefully eliminate any kind of ball that would move the thumb backwards.”

Cardinals General Manager said the splint on Molina’s thumb is “a molding plastic.”

“Ultimately, you can put it on the individual’s hand and let it mold to that,” he said.

Mozeliak said Molina could use an “apparatus” to hit with, although if that doesn’t prove to be comfortable, Molina will just tape the thumb.

“It’s (about) functionality,” Mozeliak said. “That guy’s tough. I would never go down that path on pain tolerance, because he’ll play (with pain).”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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