ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina and the Cardinals believe they have dodged a substantial setback, as an MRI exam taken on Molina's bothersome right knee revealed no structural damage. Rather, Molina has been diagnosed with knee inflammation, which the All-Star catcher hopes will subside with just a few days of rest.
Molina, who was unavailable for Sunday's series finale against the Marlins, said that he has been dealing with knee discomfort -- pain that he described as "like a knife, a pinching" -- for the last month. The pain was especially exaggerated when Molina ran the bases on Friday.
"That's what scared me," said Molina, whose position makes him susceptible to knee problems. "But I'm glad everything is all right."
With rest on Sunday and Monday (a team off-day), Molina projected that he could be ready to return to the lineup as early as Tuesday. The Cardinals are making no such guarantees, but have kept the possibility open by opting not to place Molina on the disabled list.
Should a DL stint be needed, Molina could backdate it to July 6, which would allow him to return during the first series after the All-Star break.
Tony Cruz will start in Molina's absence, and Ty Wigginton will stand in as the Cardinals' backup catcher option. Wigginton has never caught in a Major League game.
If Molina can get back on the field this coming week, he said he anticipates fulfilling his duties as the elected starting catcher for the National League's All-Star team. Molina learned on Saturday that he had beaten out San Francisco's Buster Posey in a close fan vote, and that he had finished with more votes than any other player in the league.
"To be recognized by the fans that voted for me, it's a good feeling," Molina said. "These are the best fans in baseball right here in St. Louis. They appreciate everything I do here. And to have that many votes, I didn't think in my life I'd have that many votes. That made me feel good."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.