Molina may start catching games Wednesday

Cardinals backstop progressing from thumb surgery

Molina may start catching games Wednesday

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Catcher Yadier Molina could be playing in a Grapefruit League game as soon as Wednesday, manager Mike Matheny acknowledged before the Cardinals faced the Twins on Tuesday.

Molina, who took dry swings on Tuesday for the first time since a pair of offseason thumb surgeries, would catch, but not hit, in any upcoming game appearances. The idea, Matheny explained, would be to get him an inning or two behind the plate so that Molina can test his surgically repaired thumb in a less controlled setting.

Spring Training information

The Cardinals could either bury Molina at the bottom of their lineup and then remove him before his place in the order came up, or opt to have their starting pitcher bat and use the designated hitter spot for Molina.

The step forward Molina took at the Cardinals' spring complex in Jupiter on Tuesday was also significant. The set of dry swings was a first of the spring for Molina, who has been gradually regaining strength in his left thumb since having a cast removed five weeks ago. Molina will begin hitting soft toss in the next few days.

"It is a good sign," Matheny said.

The Cardinals are still uncertain about whether Molina will be able to play uninhibited by Opening Day. But his chances of that are improving as he continues to reach rehab benchmarks without any setbacks. Molina has been catching bullpen sessions and live batting practice for more than a week. Receiving clearance to swing a bat was expected to be the last thing to come for Molina in this process.

Worth noting

Right-hander Carlos Martinez was also busy in Jupiter on Tuesday, as he threw a two-inning simulated game in advance of his first spring start, which is expected to come on Friday. Martinez was behind the organization's other pitchers this spring after spending his winter rehabbing from a shoulder injury. Despite the slowdown, the Cardinals anticipate having Martinez ready to pitch in the rotation at the start of the regular season.

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