I just recently outlined some extreme scenarios that could play out with Cardinals main stay Yadier Molina at the catcher position this season.
I made it clear that I see absolutely no reason to rush Yadi back this spring. Not when there is a quality backup option like Brayan Pena. Not when there is so much to gain by easing Yadi in, and so much to lose by bringing him back before he is ready.
With that said, I still don’t think that Yadi starts the season on the DL. It has been reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman that Yadi will have his Opening Day status determined in mid-March, but I would be surprised if he isn’t on that 25-man roster to open in Pittsburgh.
He may not play for the first week of the season, he may not even play until later on in the month of April. But, frankly, I don’t think the Cardinals will be willing to completely rule him out for a 15-day time frame to start 2016. Not with how important each game is going to be and not with uncertainty around how somebody not named Molina will handle the Cardinal pitchers.
I don’t see the Cardinals taking more than two catchers out of camp. I’ve got Brayan Pena handling the catching duties for the first week or so of the regular season before Yadi eases back in.
Pena is more than capable of handling things while Yadi recovers. The fact that he is a switch-hitter is obviously a plus. He is capable defensively, as well. The key factor is going to be how he meshes with Cardinal pitchers.
Worst case, Pena and the Cardinal staff don’t mix at all, and the Cardinals feel obligated to get Yadi back as soon as possible. While I anticipate Yadi being “available” on Opening Day from a roster standpoint, I think that it would take an absolute panic scenario for us to see Yadi in game action ahead of the first couple of series’ of the season.
Again, we will know much more come mid-March.
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