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Yadi sees first catching action of spring

Another benchmark for veteran returning from pair of surgeries on left thumb
MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- After taking pickoff throws while moving around the infield earlier this week, Yadier Molina increased his receiving work on Friday morning. For the first time this spring, Molina donned his pads and participated in some light fielding drills behind the plate.

That work, which included receiving and blocking pitches, came hours before the Cardinals held their official team workout and was controlled inside the batting cage. But it was nevertheless another benchmark reached by the veteran catcher, who is working his way back to full strength following a pair of offseason surgeries on his left thumb.

JUPITER, Fla. -- After taking pickoff throws while moving around the infield earlier this week, Yadier Molina increased his receiving work on Friday morning. For the first time this spring, Molina donned his pads and participated in some light fielding drills behind the plate.

That work, which included receiving and blocking pitches, came hours before the Cardinals held their official team workout and was controlled inside the batting cage. But it was nevertheless another benchmark reached by the veteran catcher, who is working his way back to full strength following a pair of offseason surgeries on his left thumb.

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"It feels good," Molina said of his thumb afterward. "It's getting stronger."

Molina is expected to be cleared to begin catching side sessions soon -- possibly as early as this weekend -- and will then rotate into the live batting-practice work that the rest of the squad began on Tuesday. All the pitches he caught on Friday were fed from a machine and none at near the velocity he'd have to handle on the field.

"It was a real good morning of work," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's got his program written down by the trainers just how much catching and receiving he can do. That'll obviously work well with getting his arm closer to where he wants to be."

Molina had the cast removed from his hand early in February, about seven weeks after undergoing the second procedure on his thumb. He has since been wearing a splint and will continue to do so while catching. He has not yet been cleared to hit and won't be for some time. Molina continues to spend his spring days heavily engaged in rehab work, as he tries to regain full strength in his left thumb.

How quickly Molina's thumb returns to full strength will determine whether he'll be ready to make his 11th consecutive Opening Day start.

"That's what I want," Molina said. "That's my goal."

Worth noting
• Still recovering from what the Cardinals believe to be a bout of food poisoning, outfielder Stephen Piscotty was sent home before the start of Friday's workout. It was the second straight day that Piscotty has been absent from on-field drills.

• Another outfielder, Carlos Peguero, was also missing from Friday's workout. He left camp to be with his wife, who is expected to give birth soon.

• For the second straight day, the Cardinals did not hold live batting-practice sessions as part of workouts. Those are expected to resume this weekend. Matheny said he remains undecided about whether he'll hold an intrasquad game early next week, before the Cardinals begin their slate of spring games.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast.

 

St. Louis Cardinals, Yadier Molina