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Molina catches first bullpen session

Wainwright throws to veteran, who hasn't been cleared to swing
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

JUPITER, Fla. -- Not only did Yadier Molina crouch behind the plate to catch a bullpen session for the first time this spring, but in doing so, he helped paint a hopeful picture of what could be on Opening Day.

It was no accident that the first pitcher Molina caught this spring was ace Adam Wainwright, who will draw the season's first start on April 3. Molina caught warm-up pitches from his knees before squatting to receive about 20 more before Wainwright's work was done.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Not only did Yadier Molina crouch behind the plate to catch a bullpen session for the first time this spring, but in doing so, he helped paint a hopeful picture of what could be on Opening Day.

It was no accident that the first pitcher Molina caught this spring was ace Adam Wainwright, who will draw the season's first start on April 3. Molina caught warm-up pitches from his knees before squatting to receive about 20 more before Wainwright's work was done.

"I'm just happy to be back," Molina said afterward.

Yadi's first catching action of the spring

It has been almost a month since Molina had the hard cast on his left hand replaced by a softer splint after undergoing a second surgery in December. He has been aggressively rehabbing to get strength back in his left thumb before increasing baseball activities. Molina said that he expects to catch daily as long as there are no setbacks.

While the steps forward continue, Molina's status for Opening Day will remain uncertain until it's determined when he can swing a bat. He has to regain more strength in his hand before that clearance will be given.

Worth noting

• Two years after anchoring the Florida Atlantic University pitching staff, Cardinals non-roster invitee Austin Gomber will draw a start against the Owls. Matheny announced on Monday that Gomber, the organization's reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Year, gets the nod to start Wednesday's exhibition against FAU. In three seasons with the Owls, the left-hander posted a 3.27 ERA and struck out 238.

Korean right-hander Seung Hwan Oh is also scheduled to appear in that game, which comes on the eve of the team's Grapefruit League opener.

• The Cardinals started Monday's workout an hour later than usual in order to build in time for author and pastor John Maxwell to speak to a select group of players and staff members about leadership. Matheny said that members of the team's leadership core attended the morning seminar, as well as other players the club hopes to mold into leaders.

• Outfielder Stephen Piscotty has already put the pounds back on that he lost while dealing with a bout of food poisoning last week. He returned to the field on Saturday after missing two days of workouts.

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, Austin Gomber, Yadier Molina, Stephen Piscotty