ST. LOUIS -- After playing much of May without ace Carlos Martinez and star catcher Yadier Molina, the Cardinals expect to have both ends of their All-Star battery back next week.Prior to Friday's game against the Pirates, Molina and Martinez both said they were planning to return Tuesday for St.
ST. LOUIS -- After playing much of May without ace Carlos Martinez and star catcher Yadier Molina, the Cardinals expect to have both ends of their All-Star battery back next week.
Prior to Friday's game against the Pirates, Molina and Martinez both said they were planning to return Tuesday for St. Louis' series opener against the Marlins at Busch Stadium.
"That's the plan," Molina said.
For it to become reality, Molina must make it through a two-game rehab assignment, set to begin Saturday at Double-A Springfield. Molina will catch five innings Saturday and a full game Sunday. Martinez reported no discomfort after throwing four innings at Springfield on Thursday, his only scheduled rehab start after missing more than three weeks with a right lat strain.
Molina is nearly a month removed from undergoing emergency surgery to repair a traumatic hematoma suffered when a Kristopher Bryant foul ball struck him in the groin. After the injury, two companies that produce state-of-the-art athletic cups shipped Molina samples of their products. Molina said he'll experiment with both when he returns to game action in an effort to protect himself.
"That was the worst pain in my life. I've been hit a bunch of times, believe me. But this was the worst," Molina said. "It was a lot of pain the first couple weeks. I couldn't do anything. I could barely walk."
The 35-year old Molina was enjoying an excellent offensive start to the season before that incident, batting .272 with six home runs and 17 RBIs over 30 games. Martinez also got off to a great start in 2018, compiling a 1.62 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over his first eight outings.
"It's been hard for me this past month watching the team," Molina said. "Right now, I'm feeling good, 100 percent."
Around the horn
• Injured shortstop Paul DeJong was back on the field pregame for the second consecutive day, though he wasn't able to do much. DeJong was wearing a glove on his right (throwing) hand while avoiding any contact with his broken left hand. However, DeJong said his left hand is healed enough for doctors to clear him to perform everyday activities with it. He said he will start exercising it next week and could return to baseball activities within two weeks. On the DL since fracturing his fifth metacarpal on May 18, DeJong said he hopes to return at some point in July.
"There is no pain and minimal swelling," DeJong said. "It just feels a little weak."
• Luke Gregerson played catch for the second time since beginning a throwing program, and he hopes to progress to a bullpen session sometime in the next week. Gregerson has been on the DL since May 16 due to shoulder soreness.
For the fourth consecutive year, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny's Catch-22 Foundation arranged for a youth baseball team from the Dominican Republic to visit prior to game time at Busch Stadium. The group of 13-year-olds arrived in St. Louis via the city of Santiago, where Cardinals catcher Francisco Pena is from. They are in the midst of spending a week in the area, where they'll play games against local teams.
Read the fine print
The Cardinals were required Friday to notify teams across Major League Baseball of the availability of right-hander Preston Guilmet, who is currently the closer at Triple-A Memphis. Stipulations in the Minor League contract Guilmet signed this winter -- he played last season in Japan -- required the Cardinals to communicate to other clubs if Guilmet wasn't on their 25-man roster by June 1. If another club expresses interest and can offer him an immediate spot on its active roster, Guilmet will be reassigned.
Guilmet, 30, has 11 saves and a 1.04 ERA in 18 games for Memphis this season. He last pitched in the big leagues for Milwaukee in 2015.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.