WASHINGTON -- Despite his catcher's insistence that he can continue to play while banged up, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was determined to give Yadier Molina a day off. He chose Sunday.
In August alone, Molina played through back stiffness, a sore right ankle and, most recently, shoulder and neck pain. The latter injury was the result of taking a hard hit from Pittsburgh's Josh Harrison in a home-plate collision on Tuesday. Though Molina sat for only a day after the collision, it's been obvious in the series against the Nationals that he continues to be compromised behind the plate because of a sore left shoulder.
"He's been an absolute warrior here," Matheny said. "He keeps coming back feeling better. [Saturday] he started out very good and then you could just see that his shoulder fatigued. It seems to be getting a little later, which is showing that his shoulder is healing. We just try to give him a little time when we can, even though it doesn't seem like September is the time to do it. He needs it."
Even with a growing list of minor injuries, Molina has started 109 of the team's 134 games. Only one National League catcher (Arizona's Miguel Montero) has made more starts. And Molina's value, both on offense and defense, may be no better illustrated than is this: the Cardinals are 63-46 in games he has started and 9-15 when he doesn't.