Molina not expected to miss time with bruise, Walden returns to -

Molina not expected to miss time with bruise, Walden returns to make case for health

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JUPITER, FL. ( -- While Yadier Molina’s absence from the lineup Monday against the Mets caused Cardinal fans to hold their breath, he doesn’t plan on being gone long.

Molina was swapped pregame for Eric Fryer behind the plate, as the team wanted to look at his foot.

“He had a bruise on his toe we had to have looked at,” Mike Matheny explained afterward.

Molina reportedly injured himself in the weight room, when a weight was dropped on his toe.

“I mean, they’re doing work. And when you’re doing work- when I do work around the house, I smash my hammer to the thumb all the time- stuff happens,” Matheny said.

All the exams came back clear and Molina is not expected to miss much, if any time. He was walking without any support on his foot and didn’t appear to be in any discomfort in the clubhouse.

Fryer played the entire game, acting as Carlos Martinez’s receiver for the righty’s best start of spring. Martinez threw six innings with just 67 pitches, striking out four and walking none.

Walden back on the bump

Jordan Walden, who has been watched closely over the past few days, returned to the mound in the eighth inning Monday. After tightness kept him sidelined for a string of scheduled appearances, the time for him to prove his viability in the bullpen was getting scarce.

He responded with a strong outing, throwing 24 pitches through some unhelpful circumstances.

“What a great outing for him, he picked us up twice,” Matheny said.

After giving up a leadoff single, the big righty got a double play ball up the middle. Ruben Tejada ran it down, but his flip to Kolten Wong went wide, and the Cardinals came away with no outs.

Walden struck the next two Mets out, before a pop foul ball was missed down the left field line. A hit batsman followed, but a grounder to short stranded the bases loaded.

“He stays the course. I think you could see how good the fastball looks and the slider. He’s throwing the ball well,” Matheny said.

Monday’s performance came at a crucial juncture for both Walden and the team. Only three Grapefruit League games remain, and answers are needed as to who is healthy and who isn’t.

The roster deadline is fast approaching. Matt Bowman, who is in contention for a relief spot, will be lost to waivers (or back to the Mets) if he doesn’t make the roster. Tyler Lyons, if not kept, will likely be lost to waivers. Walden’s presence, or lack thereof, has ripple effects.

He has thrown well this spring, appearing in six games and posting six scoreless innings. If healthy, he can no doubt help the relief corps as a power arm with a good slider.

“He’s had quite a few outings, he just went on a long streak there where he didn’t have much,” Matheny said, adding he’d like to see Walden throw again Wednesday as a mark of reliable health. “If he can throw as much as he did today and feel good tomorrow, then be able to throw again like he did today on Wednesday, I think we’re in a good place.”

Walden wouldn’t be required to hit back-to-back appearances before the team feels comfortable, but he will have to take the mound again this week. If he can do that without any ill effects, he will head to Pittsburgh. There are no plans for him to stay behind and throw for extra work.

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