(BaseballStL) — A day after Yadier Molina caught his first bullpen session since surgery, he didn’t rest. Instead he caught Justin Masterson Friday and said everything feels pleasantly positive.
“It’s feeling good. Way better than I expected,” he said. “It’s feeling very good.”
Molina said there were no lingering effects from Thursday’s session and added though his catching was a little rusty, he feels no pain at tall.
“My goal, I would play right now. What they say, it needs time,” he said. “My hand, my thumb needs time, that’s what they tell me.”
Molina has been out since July 9 with a torn ligament in his thumb, removing his cast and getting back into catching this week. He still must wear a splint on his right thumb and says there’s no plans in the immediate future to throw without it.
“Not soon. We have a long way to go before that,” the catcher said. “Hopefully next week we can advance something, but not right now.”
Even if he can throw, the biggest hurdle for the six-time All Star will be swinging a bat. Even with a healthy amount of recovery time for the operated thumb, it’s unknown how much bat control he will have or what a realistic expectation for his top-hand power will be.
“If I can’t hit I can’t help the team. It’s going to be the key,” Molina said, adding he’s hoping to gauge his ability soon. “Maybe next week. I mean, hopefully next week. I can’t wait to grab the bat and know how the hand reacts to it.”
In his stead, Tony Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski have managed the staff. While Molina has been present for meetings and pitcher discussions, those two have had control of the games, something the 32-year-old said they’ve handled well.
“They’ve been good. A.J. is a veteran guy and Tony is a good player, a good catcher,” he nodded. “They’ve been good.”
Sitting on the sidelines is never easy for any star, especially one as competitive as Molina. Still, watching rather than playing has been especially nerve-wracking for the catcher.
“I get nervous. I really get nervous. I get anxious, it’s bad,” he laughed, adding he can watch a whole game but, “I bite my nails.”
Even with the positive response his thumb has had and the possibility of more milestones next week, Molina is remaining realistic about his goals. Though he said he wishes he could play today, he smiled and noted that ultimately his opinion doesn’t matter.
“I just am following orders on what they tell me to do. They say I could catch a pen, so I caught a pen. They say I can run, so I run. I’m just following instructions,” he said. “Right now I can’t do anything else but prepare myself to be ready for the comeback.”
The Cardinals hope that comes soon, with September featuring seven games against the division-leading Brewers, three with the third-place Pirates and seven with the still-dangerous Reds.