St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina enjoyed another career highlight Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium.
Molina posted his 1,500th hit, a single to center against Jimmy Nelson in the fourth inning of the Cardinals’ 3-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. Molina became the 34th catcher in major-league history to reach the 1,500-hit plateau.
“That was good,” said Molina, who doffed his helmet to the cheering crowd of 40,573. “I feel so blessed to be a Cardinal and to be part of this. That was a great moment for me and I will remember that moment.”
Molina said the accomplishment will mean more to him later.
“Right now, it doesn’t mean anything for me,” he said. “All it means is that we got the win today and Waino (Adam Wainwright) pitched a great game and we played good defense today. Obviously, 1,500 is a lot of hits, but I’ve got to keep going.”
Wainwright, who threw seven shutout innings, called Molina “one of the greatest Cardinals ever.”
“He’s a treat to throw to every fifth day for me,” Wainwright said. “We were excited for Yadier because 1,500 hits is a lot of hits. That’s a good mark for any big-league player, 1,500 hits. Now we’re trying to get him to 2,000.”
Molina, who turns 34 on July 13, ranks 15th on the Cardinals’ career hit list and is within earshot of Frankie Frisch (1,577) and Joe Medwick (1,590). Ahead of Frisch and Medwick are Willie McGee (1,683) and Ted Simmons (1,704).
“It’s amazing,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “When he has everything working, I don’t know if there’s a guy who’s more enjoyable to watch. That’s why the fans get up on their feet every time he comes to the plate and every time his name’s announced. He’s an exciting player. I’m happy for him.”
It’s amazing. When he has everything working, I don’t know if there’s a guy who’s more enjoyable to watch. That’s why the fans get up on their feet every time he comes to the plate and every time his name’s announced. He’s an exciting player. I’m happy for him.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on catcher Yadier Molina reaching 1,500 career hits
Molina owns eight Gold Gloves and is a seven-time All-Star. With a .282 career average that includes 101 home runs and 672 RBIs, is Molina a lock for the Hall of Fame?
“If I’m voting,” Matheny said. “Can I give anybody my vote?”
Matheny acknowledges he’s not a numbers-cruncher, although he recognizes milestone accomplishments like 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, among others. Molina won’t reach those standards, but Matheny said there are other intangibles.
“I know there are some guidelines and there’s a protocol for what that should look like,” he said of a Hall-of-Fame career. “I haven’t even studied it. It’s not something that overly interests me as much as watching impact players and people who have stood out.
“This guy, to me, has stood out. What this guy has done, and what he continues to do, is rare. We’ve been witnessing something here pretty special for a long time.”
Wainwright said the 1,500-hit milestone might not mean as much to Molina since it’s the latest in a career full of special moments.
“He’s done so many great things,” Wainwright said. “Fifteen-hundred hits would be like, you know, throw a parade, for a lot of people. But Yadier has played in four World Series, he’s got two rings, he’s been an All-Star a million times, a Platinum Glove-winner a few times, a Gold Glover every single year. I mean, he’s got a lot of different accolades.
“But I think he’s pretty excited about 1,500 hits though.”
This guy, to me, has stood out. What this guy has done, and what he continues to do, is rare. We’ve been witnessing something here pretty special for a long time.
Mike Matheny on Yadier Molina
Defensively, Molina has been charged with a National League-high six passed balls. Molina committed a career-high eight passed balls in 2005.
Cardinals pitchers also have uncorked 22 wild pitches with Molina behind the plate. The most wild pitches the Cardinals have thrown with Molina catching are 36 in 2009 and 2012.
Molina has thrown out nine of 31 runners attempting to steal, a success rate of 29 percent. Molina has averaged a 44-percent success rate in his career, with a low of 29 percent in 2011.
Carpenter leaves team
Second baseman Matt Carpenter was not with the Cardinals on Saturday. Carpenter was in Ohio after the death of a family member. He is expected to be back Sunday.
Matheny doesn’t foresee Carpenter being placed on the bereavement list. Players on bereavement must miss a minimum of three games and a maximum of seven.
Diaz getting defensive
Rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz committed five errors in April and seven in May, but he completed June with just two miscues. He began July on Friday with an 11-assist performance, with no errors, in a 7-1 victory over Milwaukee.
“He’s a good defender,” Matheny said. “I think it just took some time for him to really get a feel for this league, which isn’t odd. It’s the norm.”
Matheny said Diaz’s early defensive blunders are a normal part of the major-league gig for a young player, especially at a strenuous defensive position like shortstop.
So much was made of some of the mistakes made early on, because the kid was just trying to prove himself. That’s completely normal, too. He’s getting to the point where he’s using his instincts and kind of letting his athleticism show.
Mike Matheny on shortstop Aledmys Diaz’s improvement on defense
“So much was made of some of the mistakes made early on, because the kid was just trying to prove himself,” Matheny said. “That’s completely normal, too. He’s getting to the point where he’s using his instincts and kind of letting his athleticism show.
“You have to not worry about making mistakes. It takes time and there’s going to be mistakes along the way, but right now, I think he’s in a great spot and has taken a huge step forward.”
Reliever Sam Tuivailala doesn’t have a defined role in the Cardinals’ bullpen. Tuivailala, recalled from Class AAA Memphis on Friday, is OK with that.
“Just be ready when my name is called, and I’ll do exactly that,” Tuivailala said Saturday morning, one day after the Cardinals placed Kevin Siegrist on the 15-day disabled list with mononucleosis. “Obviously, I’ve been around the guys (before) and I’m more comfortable. I know what to expect as far as how to go about my way.”
Tuivailala was 2-1 with a 5.06 ERA in 29 games with the Redbirds, with 48 strikeouts in 32 innings. Poor outings on May 29, June 9 and June 22 bloated his ERA, but Tuivailala was recently named a Pacific Coast League All-Star.
Tuivailala has continued to grow more comfortable throwing a cutter, which the Cardinals believe will be one of his biggest weapons.
“It’s going good,” Tuivailala said. “I’m getting a better feel for it every time I use it. I’m just throwing it hard, really. It’s definitely come a long way and I’m comfortable with it right now.”
Wong mans second
Kolten Wong started at second base Saturday, replacing Carpenter. It was Wong’s first game at second since June 5, the day before he was optioned to Memphis.
Wong had a two-run triple in the Cardinals’ three-run fourth. He had been playing center field since he returned to the Cardinals on June 17.
“It was fun,” Wong said. “It was fun being at second base again. I definitely see second base as my (best) position. I’ll be back there soon. It’s just right now, how this team is rolling, I just want to get in the lineup whenever I can.”
Matheny said Wong won’t be pushed out entirely from second base, although Carpenter will get the large majority of the playing time.
“He’s been getting his work (at second base),” Matheny said of Wong. “We knew it would happen sooner or later. That’s his position. I think he’s going to have the most time time there throughout his career. He’s a good second baseman. Just how our team’s made up right now ... we needed to make some adjustments. Carp does a great job there as well.”
Matheny said Wong has adjusted well to center field.
“He’s doing a nice job,” he said. “He probably feels a little more comfortable in the corners still. Some guys feel more comfortable in center. It just takes repetition until you see what spot feels better for you. He’ll continue to get some work (in center) and continue to get work at second base. He’ll just be one of those versatile players. We have a few on this team.”