MILWAUKEE -- After Yadier Molina underwent emergency surgery to repair a traumatic hematoma earlier this month, the Cardinals cautiously planned to be without their starting catcher for at least four weeks.A few days shy from marking a month since the injury occured, Molina appears to be nearing his return.Cardinals manager
MILWAUKEE -- After Yadier Molina underwent emergency surgery to repair a traumatic hematoma earlier this month, the Cardinals cautiously planned to be without their starting catcher for at least four weeks.
A few days shy from marking a month since the injury occured, Molina appears to be nearing his return.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny confirmed that Molina has been cleared resume baseball activities Wednesday, a day after Molina posted a video to his Instagram of him doing just that. The video showed Molina in a batting cage, receiving pitches on one knee in full gear. Matheny said he's also been swinging, and indicated Molina could embark on a rehab assignment in the near future.
"He knows [his body] maybe more than anybody I've been around in the game. He listened to the doctors and was careful not to do anything he shouldn't do," Matheny said. "It looks like he's getting pretty close."
On the disabled list since being struck in the groin by a Kristopher Bryant foul ball on May 5, doctors required Molina to rest after emergency surgery later that night. Within three weeks, he was back with the club, popping up in the dugout at Busch Stadium during games. Molina began light baseball activities over the last homestand. Matheny said he's been completely cleared by surgeons since.
"I imagine he's going to be playing here pretty soon," Matheny said. "Now it's about repetitions and tolerance -- and [making sure] he's feeling pretty good."
The final step in returning Alex Reyes to a Major League mound required a bit of roster bookkeeping, which the Cardinals completed prior to the right-hander's season debut Wednesday against the Brewers.
Two moves were needed to transfer Reyes from the 60-day disabled list to the active roster. To clear room on the 40-man roster, the club moved reliever Dominic Leone (nerve damage) to the 60-day DL. St. Louis optioned reliever Mike Mayers to Triple-A Memphis to get Reyes on the 25-man roster.
Reyes, the club's No. 1 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline, threw four scoreless innings in Wednesday's 3-2 loss against the Brewers at Miller Park, though his long-awaited return was muddied by concerns over his health after Reyes' velocity mysteriously oscillated in the third and fourth innings. The 23-year-old missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The Cardinals removed Reyes after four innings in a move described as precautionary. Reyes admitted to feeling fatigue, but no pain.
"I looked up at the radar, and you feel it. I didn't think much of it," Reyes said.
Matheny doesn't want to take chances with the young right-hander.
"For now, we'll be extra cautious with him," Matheny said.
Though Reyes' return date had been mapped out since last week, at least one corresponding move it sparked represented a recent pivot on behalf of the club. Officials had indicated that Reyes' return would boomerang righty John Gant back to Memphis, where he could continue stretching out as a starter after making the past two turns through the big league rotation. Optioning Mayers recast Gant into a hybrid role, as the versatile righty is able to provide multiple innings in relief.
That's exactly what he did Wednesday, throwing two innings in relief of Reyes.
Mayers also tossed two innings in his last outing, though he transitioned full-time to relieving this winter. He owns a 2.63 ERA across 10 appearances. This is the third time this month he's been optioned.
Marcell Ozuna was a late scratch from the Cardinals lineup Wednesday, a day after the cleanup hitter jammed his left hand sliding back into second base.
Ozuna entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, earning a leadoff walk against Josh Hader. His injury is not considered serious.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.