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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina will remain in his team’s NLCS roster despite a strained left oblique muscle injury which he sustained during Game 2 against the San Francisco Giants on Oct. 12.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny confirmed this to MLB.com’s Jennifer Langosch after Game 2 of the 2014 NLCS, which the Cardinals won, 5-4, on rookie second baseman Kolten Wong’s walkoff home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to tie the series with the San Franciso Giants at one game apiece. Molina sustained a left oblique injury during his first at-bat of the game:
“A day after sustaining a left oblique injury that he described as the ‘worst pain I have ever felt in my career,’ Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina played catch on the AT&T Park outfield grass and spoke adamantly afterward that his season is not over.
“The Cardinals have characterized Molina’s condition as day-to-day, and manager Mike Matheny confirmed on Monday that the club will keep Molina on its active postseason roster. Not only does that keep Molina as an option for the best-of-seven National League Championship Series against the Giants, but it would also allow him the chance to play if the Cardinals advance to the World Series.
“Major League Baseball requires than any player taken off the active roster in the postseason also sit out in the subsequent round. That means a move now would effectively end Molina’s career. Game 3 of the NLCS is set for Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1.
“‘That’s a tough rule with having to lose him not just the rest of this (series), but if we were fortunate enough to move on, we wouldn’t have him, as well,’ Matheny said. ‘Right now it’s just looking at what he could bring to the table and he could bring the ability to come into a game and help us out defensively, and hopefully improve to the point where we could use him offensively, as well. We don’t know. It’s just to make a knee-jerk reaction right now, I don’t think is the best decision for our club.’
“Molina did not swing a bat on Monday, but he did play catch and reported feeling much looser than expected when he woke up this morning. The Cardinals delayed their charter flight out of St. Louis after Game 2 so that Molina, who had left the ballpark to be examined, could join them on the trip.
“‘I woke up moving a little better,’ Molina said. ‘I feel good enough to catch.’
“If Molina cannot start Game 3, he most likely will be replaced by A.J. Pierzynski, rather than Tony Cruz, who replaced Molina in Game 2. Pierzynski caught Game 3 starter John Lackey 18 games in Boston this season, and twice more in St. Louis in August after the Cardinals acquired each of them.
“Molina said he felt discomfort on his left side when he singled in his first at-bat on Sunday. That sensation is what led Molina to lay down a sacrifice bunt his next time up. In his third at-bat, Molina never budged from the batter’s box as the Giants turned a double play.
“Asked to describe how he felt at that moment, Molina said, ‘It’s like someone is nailing you with a knife. It’s a tough pain.’
“That’s why both player and team were pleasantly surprised at how much improved Molina was the day after. Molina didn’t rule out returning to the field as early as Tuesday, though being included in the starting lineup would require he first test his oblique with some swings.
“He received several forms of treatment on Monday, including massage therapy, STEM therapy and ice. He is alos taking oral medication to try and expedite the recovery process. Molina said concerns about aggravating his side will not keep him off the field.
“‘Right now, you can’t think about it,’ Molina said. ‘Right now, you have to go out and give everything you have, even if it’s 50 percent. Go for your team and for yourself and try to win games. You can’t think about anything else.
“‘If I get the chance to play again, I won’t think about my side. I’m going to think about wining the game. I’ll take care of my side here in the clubhouse, but when I’m out there, I won’t think about it.'”
According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Rick Hummel, Molina’s injury brings back memories of Cardinals left fielder Vince Coleman’s in 1985:
“Yadier Molina’s left oblique injury suffered Sunday night is not the first occurrence of a prominent Cardinals player being hurt in a playoff series, ultimately affecting the club’s performance in succeeding series. Whitey Herzog knows the feeling, especially in 1985.
“That year, Vince Coleman, the first rookie to steal 100 bases in a season, couldn’t outrun the automatic tarpaulin at Busch Stadium, which, when it rolled over him, caused a small fracture in his left knee before the start of Game 4 in the National League Championship Series.
“As the Cardinals are doing now with Molina, they kept Coleman on the roster for the rest of the championship series. They also kept Coleman on the roster for the subsequent World Series, too, even though by the time the World Series started, there was a little chance of his return. But, unlike now, they couldn’t replace Coleman on the roster for the subsequent World Series, too, even though by the time the World Series started, there was little chance of his return.
“But, unlike now, they couldn’t replace Coleman on the roster since the World Series began, so, in essence, they operated with 24 players, even though Cardinals manager Herzog had outfielder Curt Ford available to add to the roster if he could have.
“The immediate effect of Coleman’s loss was negligible. The night he was hurt, the Cardinals walloped the (Los Angeles) Dodgers 12-2 to even the NLCS at two games apiece and then they won the next two games on ninth-inning home runs by Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark.
“But Coleman’s absence markedly was felt in the World Series where the Cardinals lost a 3-1 lead over the Kansas City Royals and were the victims of Don Denkinger’s bad call at first base in the ninth inning of Game 6 before they capitulated 11-0 in Game 7.”