It’s never good when you have to take your staring catcher out of the game because of injury. It’s even worse when that starting catcher is multi-time All-Star Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Alas, the Redbirds had to yank Molina out of Wednesday night’s win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third inning with an apparent sprained thumb. Molina hurt his right thumb sliding feet first into third base. Per the Cardinals’ twitter, the All-Star catcher will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
INJURY REPORT: Yadier Molina left the game in the bottom of the 3rd inning with a right thumb sprain. Will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 10, 2014
Molina was obviously in pain as he came up from the slide. Watching replays, one could see that even though he slid feet first, his right arm came down to balance himself; and his thumb got caught up in the dirt and either pulled or jammed. That’s a painful ordeal whether it happens to a little-leaguer or an All-Star MLB veteran, but Yadi gutted out the next half-inning at catcher before being pinch-hit for by backup catcher Tony Cruz. And now, we wait and see just how bad the sprain is…
Molina is undergoing MRI on his thumb to determine severity of injury #STLCards
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 10, 2014
For what it’s worth, the fact that Yadi came back out to catch that next inning says a lot about the severity of the injury; at least to this writer.
I’m not a doctor (I just play one on the internet), but if his thumb was really mangled in a bad way, there’s no way either the trainers or manager Mike Matheny would have let him get back behind the plate. Even with the catcher’s mitt in his left hand, he still had to engage his right hand to get the ball back to the mound after every pitch. If he was that hurt, they wouldn’t have asked him to do that. Pitch-hitting for him was smart because batting does require a lot of work from the hands, though.
Is Molina hurt? Absolutely.
Is he injured, though? That’s the question the Cardinals need to figure out, and those MRI results will do the trick.
In sports there’s a difference between being hurt an injured. Most athletes are hurt multiple times throughout the course of any given season in any given sport. They just gut it out, and they’re paid and train to do so. Injuries are legitimate though, and even the toughest athletes need to take injuries seriously. Those require rest, and often times some kind of medical treatment.
The point is, there’s a difference. Figuring out if Yadi is injured, or simply just hurting a bit, is going to be integral for the Cardinals in the next 12 hours.
If he’s hurt, and it’s just a sprain, Matheny would be smart to sit Molina for Thursday’s series-ending game with the Pirates, and then see what the day of rest did in regard to recovery. The upcoming series in Milwaukee is going to be a big one, and if Yadi can go, the Cardinals need Yadi to go. The Brewers are in a big-time losing slump, and it just so happens to correlate with St. Louis starting to find its offensive wings. There’s a good chance the Cardinals could enter the All-Star break in first place in the National League Central. Not saying they can’t do that without Molina, but he would be a big help.
If Yadi has suffered a legitimate injury though, the Cardinals would have to look at playing the rest of the first half without him, and potentially even having him sit out the All-Star game. He was voted in as the starting catcher of the National League team by the fans, but obviously resting and recovering in time for the second half of the season is much more important than gutting it out for the All-Star game.
So, How Worried Should the Cards Be?
St. Louis should be concerned, and that’s me just being frank. The health of the Cardinals’ star catcher is a huge deal. With that said, I don’t sense that this will end up being a long-term injury or storyline for the Cardinals in 2014.
Had Yadi been pulled out of the game right after the injury occurred, perhaps the tone of this article would be a bit different. Had this happened in the playoffs instead of right before a significant chance to rest, perhaps the tone of this article would be a little bit different. In theory, the ideal worst-case scenario here would be Molina taking some time off in order to get ready to go after the break. In the grand scheme of this season, that wouldn’t be all that bad.
As of right now, this thumb sprain seems to be a small bump in the road for the Cardinals and their All-Star catcher.
Here’s hoping the MRI scans back up that sentiment.