ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) -- As the Cardinals try and rebound from a crushing extra-innings loss, St. Louis' most important player, Yadier Molina, is attempting an unlikely comeback that would inevitably spark the team.
His return seems impossible just days after straining his oblique, an injury that takes weeks to heal, but the gold-glover was seen warming up Trevor Rosenthal during Game 3 and was apparently available as a defensive replacement.
Molina said before the game that he was feeling surprisingly better after a night of sleep and some treatment from the Cardinals staff.
"I feel better than yesterday, but still, this is painful, but I'm trying to do my best," said Molina before Game 3. "The medical staff and trainers are doing their best to get me back onto the field."
That return could come as early as Wednesday with Molina being available as a defensive replacement in later innings. Even if that's all Molina can do, the move will be warranted thanks to the poor play from Tony Cruz during the final innings of Game 2 in the NLCS.
Cruz allowed a baseruner to score from second base after a Trevor Rosenthal wild pitch after he was unable to block a ball in the dirt. The play was difficult, but was a play many would expect Molina to make.
Molina's importance won't be relegated to his defense and ability to stop wild pitches. Molina has a calming effect on the pitching staff, especially relievers Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal, and seems to control the pace of the game no matter the situation.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Yadier Molina will receive a cortisone shot and attempt to swing a bat before Game 4, an important step if he's striving to play more than just an inning or two.
As he fights through the pain, Molina remains confident in a Cardinals club that managed nearly two months without him thanks to the play of Tony Cruz and AJ Pierzynski.
"They've been around many years," said Molina of his replacements. "I have plenty of confidence in them and I know they're gonna win it for us."
With Molina's return in doubt, the Cardinals' season may be in the hands of Pierzynski and Cruz, something Cardinal Nation may be forced to accept.