Notes: Molina improving, other Cards bats hot

March 7th, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- Catcher worked with starter in a simulated game in Jupiter, Fla., on Wednesday.

The likely Opening Day battery for the Cardinals worked four innings together. Molina threw out all three runners that tried to steal on him and had two hits in six at-bats, according to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“I got a nice text from our bullpen catcher [during the game],” manager Mike Shildt said. “Yadi caught Miles, threw a couple guys out, took his at-bats. They got their work in.

“So it was a favorable, positive day back on the ranch, so to speak.”

Molina, 36, is recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee. He has yet to make an appearance in the Grapefruit League but could get playing time as a designated hitter soon. He is expected to catch a spring game in mid-March.

O'Neill stays hot

Outfielder hit his fourth home run of spring in Wednesday's 9-5 win over the Yankees, taking starter Jonathan Loaisiga over right-center field on a 2-2 pitch in the second inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

O’Neill also added a double, his first hit this spring that wasn’t a home run.

“More good at bats. Tyler’s in a great spot,” Shildt said. “It’s pretty impressive. His work is paying off.”

Munoz back on track

Infielder made his return to the field and got a base hit in the ninth inning of St. Louis' victory

Munoz was hit by a pitch on the outside of his left wrist Saturday. But X-rays showed no damage beyond a contusion, and after taking batting practice Tuesday he was ready to return.

“That was big for him,” Shildt said. “He comes back from getting hit and we’re very thankful it wasn’t broken, it was just a contusion.

“He came right back, got his work in, got right back on the horse and got right back on the field. That was important for him.”

Munoz has had an excellent spring as he competes for a roster spot as a utility player. His base hit Wednesday pushed his Grapefruit League batting average to .429 (6-for-14).

Playing it small

Second baseman laid down a well-placed bunt in the sixth inning with runners on the corners, scoring . The move is something that Shildt says Wong will have the green light to do when the situation calls for it.

“It’s part of his game, he’s working on it,” Shildt said. “Something that we work on, that situation, first and third, lefty on the mound and it’s something you can think about. The situation dictated it and he couldn’t have executed it any better.”

Wong also had a double to push his spring average to .313.

“Kolten can help the team in a whole lot of ways; he showed that today," Shildt added.

Game notes

, playing in back-to-back games for the first time this spring, was slotted in as the designated hitter. He went 2-for-3.

• DeJong was 2-for-3 with his first home run of the spring.

Up next

The Cardinals have an off-day Thursday followed by a split-squad game Friday. Right-hander will be making his third start of the Grapefruit League, going against the Nationals in Jupiter, Fla., at 12:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander will take the mound for his second start of the spring against the Astros in West Palm Beach, Fla., at 5:05 p.m.