Molina day to day with right knee soreness

Catcher exits one inning after getting struck in guard by foul tip

Molina day to day with right knee soreness

MILWAUKEE -- It was only a little more than a week ago that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina took an Aramis Ramirez foul tip off his right knee during Milwaukee's visit to St. Louis. It didn't knock Molina out of the game, but the soreness persisted until Friday.

"This morning I was like, 'OK, my knee feels better,'" Molina said. "And boom, tonight, he hits it in the same spot."

The Brewers third baseman found the same area of Molina's muscle, which is now sore once again and may cost the veteran backstop at least one start this weekend. Asked if he expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday, Molina answered, "I don't know. Hopefully."

The good news is that Ramirez's 2-1 foul ball off Molina's knee in the fourth inning on Friday did not strike the bone. The area was tender and swollen after the Cardinals' 3-0 win, but there was no concern about a fracture.

Molina was slow to get up after impact and moved around gingerly while shooing starter Carlos Martinez back to the mound. The young pitcher, who had come in to check on his catcher, struck Ramirez out on his next pitch. It would be the final pitch Molina would catch in the game.

Molina's RBI groundout

He received a few warmup pitches from Martinez before the bottom of the fifth before returning to the dugout. Backup catcher Tony Cruz took his place behind home plate.

"I tried to squat, but I couldn't," Molina said. "It was getting too tight."

"You could see it wasn't going to work," added manager Mike Matheny. "You have a dead leg. I could see that he wanted to and it just wasn't working."

Molina said his catching gear took the brunt of the foul tip, though Matheny noted that there are small spots of the knee still exposed when in the squatting position. A notoriously hard-nosed catcher in his day, one who once played the day after taking a fastball to the jaw, Matheny said he's not sure he'd have been able to play 24 hours after taking a pitch off the knee as Molina did.

"That was pretty sore," Matheny said. "That's a bad spot. It hits inside. The hard stuff doesn't protect the inside [of the knee]."

With the Cardinals already playing short a bench player, Matheny acknowledged the Cardinals may need to make a roster move to provide themselves additional protection behind the plate in case Molina misses any time. Pete Kozma is currently the team's emergency catcher and did start warming pitchers up between innings to get some exposure after Molina exited.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.