What Yadier Molina’s harm means for the St Louis Cardinals

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JULY 29: Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the Minnesota Twins on July 29, 2020 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

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The St. Louis Cardinals were optimistic Yadier Molina’s injury was not serious. He left Friday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds with a right foot strain and played only a couple days later. But he woke up the next morning “having trouble moving around, he told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and was immediately placed on the 10-day Injured List.

“There wasn’t any concern about doing more harm,” Shildt said. “That’s why we had the multiple images and multiple looks because we didn’t want to miss something that was in there that had a fray or a tear or some level that could impede if he played.”

The injury is short-term, of course, but it is a huge blow for the Cardinals. They had finally gotten their starting rotation back on track, getting back-to-back lengthy starts out of Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez. Molina had been tearing the cover off the ball to start the season, hitting .323/.366/.631 with five home runs and 14 RBI in 19 games.

It means an increased role for Andrew Knizner and for the Cardinals to (once again) experience life without Molina. But in a small sampling this season, Knizner has more than held his own. He’s hitting .304/.360/.391 in 23 at-bats.  He has caught starts from Jack Flaherty, Carlos Martinez and John Gant, holding a catcher’s ERA of 2.57. But he is not the catcher or hitter that Molina is — to be fair, nobody in baseball is — and presents a downgrade in the lineup and for the pitching staff.

The Cardinals remain hopeful that Molina will be out no longer than 10 days. But after a slow start to the season, and watching the Milwaukee Brewers establish themselves as the best team early on in the National League Central, the Cardinals can ill afford to lose any of their players, especially Molina.

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