(BaseballStL) — Thursday’s news on Yadier Molina was about as bad as could be, as the club announced he will miss 8-12 weeks with a torn ligament in his right thumb.
The All Star catcher is scheduled for surgery Friday morning in St. Louis, and everyday catching duties will move to backup Tony Cruz.
Molina injured the thumb when he slid into third base during the bottom of the second inning in Wednesday’s game against Pirates. He came up holding his thumb, but stayed in the game after a visit from Mike Matheny and the trainers. He caught the next inning, but was pulled during the bottom half and sent for an MRI. It was determined afterward the 31-year-old will be shut down.
“This team’s been together for a lot of ups and downs. They’ve seen players get lost for the season. Sometimes it’s early, sometimes it’s, mid sometimes it’s late,” GM John Mozeliak said Thursday. “They all know they have a job to do and they’ll continue to do it.
How do you think the Cards will fare without Yadi in the lineup? Share your thoughts.
Cruz will take over having appeared in 21 games this season, hitting .255 in limited action. Mike Matheny said Cruz will have full control of games, and will not get help with signal calling from the manager.
“Tony has done a great job. We feel like when he’s out there he gives us a chance to win,” he said. “He’s caught a lot of games this year. He’s done a nice job and he knows how to run the game.”
Molina will be available as a resource to the young backup during his recovery. The team is unsure what the rehab process will look like, but Mozeliak stopped short of calling it season-ending.
“Knowing Yadi, if I had to bet on it, it’d be sooner rather than later. But we have to be smart about it too,” he said.
Audry Perez was called up to reinforce Cruz, and should the worst happen, Daniel Descalso is the the club’s emergency catcher. While the GM said he has faith in the 27-year-old, he did say he will begin looking at available catchers and see if anything makes sense for the team.
“I think from a standpoint of trying to replace [Molina], it’s not even a logical question. What you’re doing is you need to find a stop gap,” he said. “We have a lot of confidence in Cruz, that’s why he is our backup. Now, he’s getting an opportunity to play every day. In the meantime we’ll look out and see if there’s something that could help this club our help balance it out in the short term.”
Only 18 bases were stolen on Molina this season, seven fewer than the next catcher on the list. He’s cut down 48.6 percent of all those attempting to steal against him, and has been charged with just two errors all year.
Attempting to find a replacement catcher in July, even as a holdover, is no small task. With the trade deadline approaching, the Cardinals will have limited options, especially with so many injuries to their young pitching staff.
“When you think about looking for catching in this time of year, it’s not like the offseason where you have options of free agents and so forth. It’s traditional trading deadline-type discussions. Teams that are looking to either move money or know that they’re trying to collect some version of talent,” Mozeliak said. “Obviously the type of player we get will likely be somebody that has experience.”
One possible candidate would be A.J. Pierzynski, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox Wednesday. He has a one-year, $8.25 million contract, $3.6 million of which is remaining on the Red Sox’s books if he clears waivers. Boston could make a move to trade him, or, if he clears waivers, the 37-year-old could sign a new contract in free agency.