ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The dispute between St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and longtime veteran catcher Yadier Molina was taken public Friday; first on Instagram, then in the media.
The inciting incident was a quote Thursday from the manager on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s website, where Matheny, talking about the decision to start rookie catcher Carson Kelly behind the plate, said the following:
“Yadi’s caught a lot,” Matheny said. “Yesterday, just kind of watching him go around the bases, too, you could tell that he’s, you know...” Matheny changed course mid-sentence, but he was implying that Molina is tired.
Friday morning, the 35-year-old Molina took to Instagram to voice his frustrations, saying in a post:
“I train to play 174 games because that's what it takes to be Champion, I'm not tired and the day I feel tired I'll express it myself.
Molina was waiting at his locker Friday before the night game against Arizona, and opened up about the dispute.
When you look in the [paper] and see your name, and the manager is saying you look tired and you’re not, I take offense to that. That’s why I said what I said on Instagram,” he said. “I’m not tired, I’m ready to go. When I am tired I will let you guys know.”
Molina was clear he didn’t take issue with the decision to play Kelly in his stead, but rather the reason given for the choice.
“I don’t mind, obviously. He’s a great kid and a good catcher. I’m going to be here to help him any way I can,” he said. “But when you see in the paper that the manager says you look tired on the bases and you’re really not, that’s what it is.”
Molina and Matheny have a strong relationship that spans back to Matheny’s playing days in St. Louis (Molina ultimately replaced him behind the dish). The catcher said he still maintains a great deal of respect for his manager, but felt he couldn’t let the quote go unanswered.
He also defended his decision to air his grievance publicly, despite what interpretations outsiders might make from his social media post. The Cardinals are scuffling through their worst season in some time, and the team is weighing heavy decisions about the future direction of the organization and which personnel will be a part of those plans. Even with the risk of exposing clubhouse discord, Molina, who takes great pride in his ability to catch as many innings as possible (nearly 14,000 innings for his career and often the most in the National League), wanted to correct any perceptions of fatigue.
“I had to defend myself. When you see the manager say you look tired in the middle of the game running the bases, people are going to think that you are when you’re not. I had to defend myself.”
The two had not spoken when Molina addressed the media.