Cardinals’ Molina on NLDS roster despite thumb injury
All-Star catcher Yadier Molina is on the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster for the NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs and will play wearing a splint to protect a strained ligament in his left thumb.
"I think he feels pain," manager Mike Matheny said Thursday. "He just doesn’t recognize it, or know how to define it."
Molina also was scheduled to drop the ceremonial first puck at the St. Louis Blues opener against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, a day before the start of the best-of-five series against the Cubs.
"What he does behind the plate more than anything is a game-changer," leadoff man Matt Carpenter said. "He’s really good at what he does."
Ace Adam Wainwright, who recovered more quickly than expected after tearing his left Achilles in late April, will be part of an 11-man bullpen after working three one-inning stints on the final regular-season trip. General manager John Mozeliak said the 34-year-old, a two-time 20-game winner, will be available to work multiple innings and perhaps on consecutive days.
Molina was injured on a tag play at Chicago on Sept. 20. He has been working out for three days wearing a molded plastic brace for catching and with the hand taped for hitting.
Molina expected hitting would be more difficult but said receiving has been a bigger challenge.
"Obviously, it was a serious injury," Molina said. "The trainers and doctors did a great job. The pain’s going to be there. So, I’m ready to go."
Matheny Game 1 starter John Lackey will be followed by lefty Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn.
The roster includes four rookies: outfielder Randal Grichuk, outfielder-first baseman Stephen Piscotty, outfielder Tommy Pham and infielder Greg Garcia.
Lefty Tyler Lyons will be in the bullpen after impressive outings down the stretch.
"We could sit here for a long time talking about the decisions made on this roster, and you know, it wasn’t a lot of fun," Matheny said.
Grichuk is expected to start in right field for the opener and Piscotty at first.
Among those left off the roster were first baseman Matt Adams, who returned late in the season from a torn quadriceps; relievers Randy Choate and Steve Cishek; and infielder Pete Kozma.