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Cardinals place Molina on IL with right knee inflammation

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina waits for pitchers to take the mound during a spring...
St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina waits for pitchers to take the mound during a spring training baseball workout Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)(David J. Phillip | AP)
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 11:50 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is heading to the injured list for the first time in 2022 as the nine-time Gold Glover will get a respite from the knee troubles that have understandably plagued him in the final chapter of his illustrious career behind the plate.

Following the Cardinals’ loss to the Pirates on Wednesday, Molina lingered in front of his locker far longer than usual, still in uniform and seated with his back to the room. It seemed as though the catcher was wrestling with something. As he nears his 40th birthday, the iron-man catcher who once claimed “I train to play 174 games because that’s what it takes to be Champion,” is dealing with the ramifications of how a storied career like his eventually, inevitably takes its toll on the human body.

The Cardinals placed Molina on the injured list Wednesday with right knee inflammation, retroactive to June 16. 22-year-old catching prospect Ivan Herrera was recalled to the big-league roster in a corresponding move, as Herrera and roster mainstay Andrew Knizner will handle the backstop duties in Molina’s absence.

Knizner has seen more playing time spelling Molina so far this season than any other year of his career as the Cardinals have sought to manage Yadi’s workload to keep him as fresh as possible. His performance offensively has left more to be desired. The 27-year-old has hit just .198 with a .541 OPS in 114 plate appearances on the campaign, prompting manager Oliver Marmol to call for more from Knizner specifically in a recent post-game presser.

“Yeah, we’ve had that conversation,” Marmol responded to a question on the team’s limited production from the catcher position this season. The manager took the quandary aimed at the position group in general and pointed the finger at Knizner, specifically.

“Honestly, we’ve got to see better at-bats out of Kiz. He’s working at it, but at some point, there has to be a change as far as what it looks like on the field.”

Marmol’s pointed response toward one and not the other makes more sense within the context of just how badly Molina has been ailing. The catcher has battled sore knees throughout much of the season. The Athletic reported Thursday night that Molina received multiple cortisone shots over the past weekend. Evidently, it wasn’t enough to buy the 10-time All-Star much time in the present, as an IL stint was still deemed the best choice for Molina’s recovery after just two additional game appearances.

Molina and longtime pitch-and-catch partner Adam Wainwright have already this season chased down the all-time MLB record for most wins by a single battery. The pair still need nine more starts to eclipse Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan for the most starts by a battery in MLB history. That pursuit must hit pause for now, as Molina takes a recess in hopes that it rejuvenates the catcher for the stretch run of his final big-league season.