ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina, making his first public comments since he resumed catching, said on Friday that he hopes to begin swinging a bat as early as next week.
Molina now sits five weeks removed from undergoing surgery on his right thumb, a procedure that was expected to sideline him for 8-to-12 weeks. He caught his first bullpen session since the surgery on Thursday and has been throwing with a softer brace for the last two days. Gripping a bat will be his next challenge.
"I can't wait to grab a bat and see how the hand reacts to it," Molina said. "I'm feeling good. I'm way better than I expected. I'm feeling very good."
Molina said he has felt "no pain at all" in the week since a hard cast was removed from his hand. He described his catching as "a little rough," though only because of the layoff. Molina refrained from setting a target date for a return, noting that it's up to the doctors to give him clearance for each subsequent step in the recovery.
In addition to swinging, Molina will have to show that he can throw without the brace before beginning a rehab assignment in the Minors.
"Every time you miss games and aren't there helping the team, it's tough," Molina said. "But right now, I can do nothing but prepare myself to come back. Hopefully the team is there right in the race, and I can come back to help the team win."
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.