Molina gets rare break with Wainwright on hill

Molina gets rare break with Wainwright on hill

CINCINNATI -- Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina are batterymates rarely separated. The only time Wainwright threw to anyone but Molina in 2013 was during the two-week period when Molina was on the disabled list. This season, Molina had been behind the plate for each of Wainwright's first 10 starts.

But on Sunday, Wainwright took the mound seeking to become the National League's first eight-game winner with someone else calling the pitches.

Tony Cruz made his sixth start of the season after manager Mike Matheny decided that this would be an optimal day for Molina to sit. With off-days rare for the veteran catcher, Molina even skipped batting practice for a night. A day off now sets Molina up to be ready to start all three games against the Yankees.

"Trying to pick out days [of rest] early on, and we had our eye on this one for a while," Matheny said. "It's something I know Yadi really enjoys, for the most part. He was up to speed with what we've been trying to do."

Cruz caught Wainwright four times in 2012 and twice more last season while Molina was on the mend. Wainwright went 2-4 in those starts and entered Sunday with a 4.13 ERA in 52 1/3 innings working with Cruz.

Molina's absence on Sunday might even disappoint Reds fans, who have taken enjoyment in taunting Molina at Great American Ball Park. On Saturday, Molina answered those boos with a solo homer, his 10th at this ballpark. At no other road venue has Molina hit more. His 36 RBIs at Great American Ball Park are also tops in an opposing ballpark for Molina, who has hit .325/.360/.518 here.

"I've been coming here for four years, and they boo me every time," Molina said. "I don't care about that. It's not about me. It's about the team. They boo me for some reason, I don't know why."

He quickly corrected that last part, clearly recalling the 2010 fracas that began when Molina took exception to a Brandon Phillips shin-guard tap.

"I know why," he said. "But it's been four years. I don't care."

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.