(BaseballStL) -- Yadier Molina continues to move ever closer to active duty. Hitting in the BP cage on the field Tuesday, the stud catcher- on the DL since July 31- looked strong, even belting a homer while his teammates watched.
The Cardinals have filled the void with journeyman Rob Johnson and young convert Tony Cruz. In the meantime, Molina has been continually tested and responded well.
"We keep giving him more work to do, he came out and did some more catching stuff today," said Mike Matheny Tuesday. "So far everything we've given him he's come right back and he's been tested with just about everything. So we're hopeful he'll be ready to go."
The earliest Molina could return to the lineup is Thursday, the final game against the Pirates before the Cardinals head to Chicago.
"How he feels tells us more than anything else," Matheny added; stressing again that everyone involved is cautiously optimistic.
Following the All Star break, Molina was hitting just .236, perhaps indicating his knee was a far bigger hinderance than advertised.
Going forward, the Cardinals will likely find more rest for their MVP catcher, meaning more reps for both Johnson and Cruz- something that could mean a dip in offensive production down the stretch.