With the return of Harrison Bader, the biggest name looming on the injured list for the St Louis Cardinals was star catcher Yadier Molina. There has been buzz in recent days that he was nearing his return, though no exact timetable was given.
At long last, Molina has arrived. He was activated off the injured list on Saturday and will hit sixth in the lineup against the Colorado Rockies. Ali Sanchez was optioned to Triple-A Memphis, but will be on the team’s taxi squad as insurance should an issue arise with Molina.
Molina had been the Cardinals’ best hitter so far this season, hitting .323 with five home runs and 14 RBI in 19 games. He attempted to play through a strained tendon in his right foot, but after he did not recover well following catching complete-game from Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals decided to place him on the IL to allow him time to rest and get back to 100 percent.
In his absence, the Cardinals dominated. They went 8-2 in games caught by backup Andrew Knizner, who established himself as a capable option behind the plate. But he struggled offensively, hitting only .176 in those games, watching his batting average plummet to .208 on the regular season.
Molina’s return, however, should help aid the club both offensively and defensively as they get ready to square off against the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres next week. He’ll step in immediately to catch Carlos Martinez, who has been the team’s best starting pitcher in recent weeks.
The Cardinals should, and likely will, manage Molina’s workload during the season. They are a much better team across the board when he is on the field. And this latest stretch proved that they can win with Knizner, even if he cannot come close to replicating Molina’s offensive production.