ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina’s thumb hasn’t healed the way that he or the Cardinals would have liked, so the Cardinals catcher was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday, retroactive to July 8, with a right thumb tendon strain. It was one of seven roster moves announced by the team on the last day of the All-Star break.
This is Molina’s second IL stint this season with the same right thumb tendon strain, having also missed time in late May and early June. Molina appeared as a pinch-hitter on July 6 but has not started a game since July 3.
President of baseball operations John Mozeliak, speaking to the media after an optional team workout at Busch Stadium on Thursday, said Molina was evaluated Monday, and the doctor said it was in Molina’s best interest to take more time to let the thumb fully heal. It will likely be around three weeks until Molina is ready to play, but no surgery is needed.
“What’s most important is that he understands he needs more time,” Mozeliak said. “Nothing has gone backwards. Ideally, it’s time and just being patient.”
Mozeliak said Molina didn’t reinjure the thumb -- there was nothing that triggered a flare-up in the weeks that Molina was playing -- but it never fully healed from when Molina was hit by a pitch in May and continued to play before being put on the injured list.
“I hate characterizing it as someone being not patient, but I think you’re always -- players like Yadi are always trying to get back on the field, and you admire that and respect that, but sometimes it’s best to hit the pause button,” Mozeliak said. “That’s what we’ll do here.”
Molina was affected the most when swinging a bat and making hard contact. The task now is to rest the thumb and to regain grip strength.
“One of those things where we want to be mindful,” manager Mike Shildt said. “Certain contact on part of the bat, he gets jammed, off the end, certain swing, flares it up or upsets it. He’ll need more time to heal it, so he can be more offensively competent consistently.”
Matt Wieters will see most of the time at catcher with Knizner as the backup. When Knizner was with the club in early June, he went 0-for-7 at the plate in two games but earned high praise from the coaching staff after he caught Adam Wainwright twice.
Carpenter, who last played on June 28, is hitting .216 this season with a .706 OPS. Both of those would be his worst for any complete season in which he played at least double-digit games.
While Tommy Edman and Yairo Munoz made their mark splitting time at third base while Carpenter was out, Shildt is hoping to get Carpenter back in the lineup and give Edman and Munoz playing time when he sees fit.
“We’re in a performance-oriented world,” Shildt said. “Carpenter has also earned the opportunity to come back and play again, based on his sustained success he’s had over a long time in this league. We need a guy like Carp to anchor this offense. It’ll be -- you’ll see Carp getting back in there, you’ll see Tommy getting some opportunities and time, you’ll see Yairo get some time and opportunities.”
Webb had a 4.45 ERA with the Cardinals in 30 1/3 innings pitched this year. He’s been solid at times but has been nicked for multiple runs an outing at times, too. He gave up three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning Saturday against the Giants. Before Saturday, Webb, a left-hander, gave up nine hits in 58 at-bats against left-handers, but on Saturday, he gave up three hits in four at-bats against left-handers.
Shreve was acquired from the Yankees on July 28, 2018, in a three-player trade that included reliever Giovanny Gallegos. He went 1-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 20 appearances (15 2/3 innings) for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals designated Shreve for assignment in March, and he passed through waivers unclaimed to begin the year in Memphis, where he was 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. Since June 1, he has a 1.72 ERA (15.2 IP) with 21 strikeouts and three walks in 15 games.
“[He] just pitched well,” Mozeliak said about the transaction. “When you’re looking at down in Memphis and what he was doing, he was having success and the way he was going about it with lower walks and higher strikeouts, thought he could be more effective [in St. Louis].”
Ozuna steadily progressing
The Cardinals are encouraged by Marcell Ozuna’s improvement after fracturing his right middle and ring fingers and hope to have him back by the end of the month. There still is some inflammation in his fingers that needs to clear up, but the left fielder’s strength is improving.
Ozuna was the Cardinals’ most productive hitter before hitting the injured list, batting .259 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs. He’s in a similar situation to Molina, where swinging a bat is what is causing the most problems, and he's hoping to regain grip strength.
“It is about regaining strength, but it’s also about not putting it in a position to make it worse,” Mozeliak said. “I think that’s probably the most important aspect to all of this.”