PITTSBURGH -- Indicative of the progress both have recently made, catcher Yadier Molina and right-hander Michael Wacha will relocate to Springfield, Mo., this week to continue their rehab work with St. Louis' Double-A affiliate.
Molina, who is recovering from July 11 surgery on his right thumb, will participate in a full workout -- batting practice, fielding work, throwing, etc. -- on Tuesday. If he passes that test without issue, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Molina could be playing in a Minor League game with Springfield as early as Wednesday.
While it would be seamless to activate Molina from the 15-day disabled list when rosters expand on Sept. 1, the Cardinals have not ruled out an earlier return if Molina passes all necessary medical checkpoints. At the time of his surgery, it was announced that Molina would need 8-to-12 weeks to return. It looks like he'll do better than that timeline, as Friday will mark the end of his seventh week in recovery.
"When we see things medically right and when he feels right also, whether it's throwing or swinging the bat, and the medical staff is behind it, we're ready to figure out what the next step will be," Matheny said.
Wacha's rehab stint is expected to be longer, though an early September return remains a possibility. Wacha is scheduled to throw three simulated innings and live batting practice (approximately 40-45 pitches) to a group of Double-A hitters on Wednesday, Matheny confirmed.
Wacha, who was shut down with a right shoulder stress reaction after his June 17 start, has been throwing off the mound at Busch Stadium every two-to-three days since Aug. 16. He'll need at least one rehab start against Minor League competition before returning to St. Louis. If all goes well on Wednesday, that start could come as early as the weekend.
"It's a great step forward," Matheny said of the progress of both players. "Obviously, we'll see how they both feel after they get an opportunity to get into a game. It's definitely good news."
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.