JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals do not intend to pull back the reins on Yadier Molina's playing time during the regular season, but have decided to prepare him for that heavy workload by reducing what he does in spring.
Molina will not play in Friday's Grapefruit League opener as part of the Cardinals' plan to slowly ease him into game action. This is not an indicator that Molina is again dealing with right knee inflammation, which landed him on the disabled list last summer. His knees are giving him no issues, and Molina has participated in every scheduled workout drill thus far.
Rather, this is the Cardinals' way of attempting to preserve Molina for when the games matter most.
"If we're going to be proactive and give him a little bit of rest, it's nice to do it in February or early March," manager Mike Matheny said. "Then you don't have to do it in June or July. Everything we'll be smart with. Once we get the season going, it comes down to how he is feeling and how the body is responding."
Molina will make regular appearances in Grapefruit League games once the exhibition schedule nears its end. The Cardinals, as they do with every player, have a targeted number of at-bats they would like Molina to get. They also value having him catch as many pitchers as possible so there is a familiarity going into the season.
Molina has become the poster boy for durability behind the plate and has started at least 128 games as catcher in each of the last five seasons.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.