Molina given green light to play in NLDS
Catcher will wear protective devices on injured left thumb
ST. LOUIS -- There likely will be a level of discomfort for Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who has torn ligaments in his left thumb, but he is determined to play against the Cubs and is on the 25-man roster for the National League Division Series that begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS.
Molina will wear devices to protect the thumb -- one for hitting and another for catching -- in order to avoid further injury, but he passed all the tests this week and is ready to go for the first time since sustaining the injury on Sept. 20.
"I feel good. I took some BP the last two days and it responded well. So I'm ready to go," Molina said.
Molina, 33, was injured trying to make a swipe tag on the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo. After he rested his thumb for two weeks, Molina resumed hitting, catching, throwing and blocking pitches on Tuesday.
"It was difficult, it was a serious injury," Molina said. "The trainer and the doctor did a great job. The pain is going to be there, but hopefully the thing I'm going to wear for the pain [works]. I tried it today, it feels good."
In 136 regular-season games, Molina batted .270/.310/.350 with four home runs and 61 RBIs. While his numbers are down from some of his best years, his presence is viewed as invaluable.
Molina also leads the current St. Louis roster with 86 postseason games played.
"It's huge. What Yadi does to our lineup and actually behind the plate more than anything is a game changer," Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter said. "The way he calls a game, the comfort level our pitchers have throwing to him and the intangibles he brings to our team, you can't put a number on it. He's really good at what he does. He's fun to play behind. Having him out there is going to be good."
During Thursday's workout at Busch Stadium, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny watched Molina hit during simulated-game conditions. Neither Matheny, nor Molina, placed a percentage on how healthy the thumb was heading into the postseason.
"He looks good to me and he's swinging the bat well," Matheny said. "He took some live swings today off a pitcher throwing a simple battery game. Everything looked right. You saw him receiving the ball. Everything looked right. So I don't have a percentage for you except he looks good."
Molina will be wearing different plastic splints molded to protect his left thumb from further ligament damage -- one for hitting and one for catching.
Which is harder for Molina -- catching or hitting?
"Catching. I was thinking it would be the hitting part, but hitting was feeling good," he said. "Catching -- some of the pitches I had trouble with. Overall, it feels great."