ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina will begin his rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Memphis, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Thursday.
Molina (right thumb tendon strain) will catch two games in a row this weekend and then be re-evaluated. Shildt said the Cardinals do not expect Molina to return for the road series against the A’s and Dodgers, so the earliest he would come back could be against the Pirates on Aug. 9 in St. Louis. There’s a chance he’ll transition to Double-A Springfield, as the Redbirds go on the road next week.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good timetable on it and when he comes back here, but it’s unfair to say that when he hasn’t gone out and played yet,” Shildt said. “We’ve got a plan that everybody, including Yadi, is pleased with.”
Molina will use the first two games to get back into game action and the flow of catching. The timing of his swing, Shildt said, will come as Molina heals. But just as his time on the injured list with the thumb injury has proven: Patience is key.
“I think he’s got his head around it and is in a good place,” Shildt said. “This guy has as much passion and hunger to compete in this game as maybe anybody I’ll ever get to know. That can get in his way of wanting to come back, contribute. … He likes to compete, and he wants to win. It’s been clear from the medical team, his own experience, that he’s going to have to get this behind him. It’s just not fair to him or us to ask him to begin to compete if it’s not behind him.”
Left fielder Marcell Ozuna (fractured right fingers) is in Memphis already for his rehab assignment and is 1-for-5 with one walk in two games. Shildt said Ozuna will play a full game Thursday, and the Cardinals will re-evaluate the timetable for his return will be afterward.
Meet Adalberto Mejia
Left-hander Adalberto Mejía spent just one day at home in the Dominican Republic before getting the call that the Cardinals wanted to claim him off waivers, but he wasn’t complaining.
Mejia hopped on a plane Wednesday and made it to St. Louis in time to join the bullpen for the game against the Cubs, and he’s ready for whatever role the Cardinals put him in.
“It’s a team that’s a contender, and they’re competing to get to October, so I’m super happy to join them,” Mejia said through a translator Thursday.
Mejia, who has a 7.32 ERA between the Twins and Angels this year, gives the Cardinals left-handed depth in the bullpen, joining Andrew Miller and Tyler Webb.
He made the transition to the bullpen in 2018 with the Twins after starting 21 games (4.50 ERA) for them in 2017, so the 26-year-old can also give the Cardinals some innings.
“We’ve got to evaluate, give him the opportunity to get him in the game to see what he looks like, but he is built up,” Shildt said. “He’s got starter history and has thrown multiple innings.”
Mejia pitched three scoreless innings for the Angels in their 16-inning game against the Orioles on July 25, but Los Angeles needed bullpen depth the day after and designated Mejia for assignment. He hasn’t pitched since and is ready for game action. Standing at 6-foot-3, Mejia has an effective changeup and slider and can hit 95 mph with his fastball. A left wrist strain in August last year limited him, but he said he was “100 percent healthy” this year.
“I took [the DFA] by surprise, but this is baseball and you have to be professional and take it,” Mejia said. “I’m glad I’m here now.
“I came to work hard and want to help the team make it to October.”