Molina better, hopes to play in Bucs' series

Molina better, hopes to play in Bucs' series

ST. LOUIS -- Though he remained out of the lineup for a third straight day, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina noted improvement with his back and expressed some optimism that he will not miss the entire weekend series against Pittsburgh.

Molina took swings in the batting cage on Friday, which represented a significant step forward considering he couldn't finish his swing without feeling a substantial amount of discomfort one day earlier. He intends, too, to serve as the bullpen catcher on Friday, which would provide another test for his back. Molina has been dealing with middle back tightness since Tuesday.

"Each day it's getting better," Molina said. "It's hard because you want to be part of this big series. We know the Pirates are in [position for] the Wild Card, and you want to be there for your team and try to help the team win. But at the same time, you have to think about your health. You can't go out there 50 percent. You have to go out there 100 percent."

There is a chance Molina could return this weekend, though it's also not a certainty. He is undergoing therapy and engaging in exercises in an effort to expedite the recovery. Tony Cruz continues to catch in Molina's absence.

"Yesterday, I couldn't swing," Molina said. "Today, I was swinging way better than yesterday. Hopefully, tomorrow, I can give you good news."