Pena held out 1 more day with arm tightness

Pena held out 1 more day with arm tightness

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Initially scheduled to catch Carlos Martinez's start on Thursday, catcher Brayan Pena was held off the field another day due to tightness in his right (throwing) arm.

The discomfort, manager Mike Matheny revealed, began a couple of days ago, which explains why Pena has been absent since starting on Saturday. Matheny said he expects Pena to return to the lineup on Friday, when the Cardinals host the Tigers. Pena has appeared in five spring games and has two singles in 11 at-bats.

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"Nothing concerning," Matheny added. "Give him a little time to try and get ahead of it and make it feel better."

Worth noting
Yadier Molina hit another benchmark in his return from offseason thumb surgery when he took three at-bats in a Minor League intrasquad scrimmage back in Jupiter. Though Molina has appeared in four Grapefruit League games this spring, he had not previously been given the green light to swing. His only contact to date came on a sacrifice bunt that Molina executed on Wednesday.

"Facing live [pitching] is a big deal," Matheny said. "It's a step in the right direction. He's been real good about staying on track, and following the medical staff's template that they put in place a long time ago. He just keeps doing his part and they keep pushing things forward."

• Hours after Matheny said Matt Holliday has "the athleticism to make it work" at first base, the first baseman-in-training made a nice play on a ground ball to his right in the Cardinals' 5-4 loss to the Tigers. He dove, smothered the grounder and flipped to first for the out. Holliday, who has not yet played the outfield in a spring game, continues to impress with how far he's come since first beginning his work at the position over the winter.

"I just look at him as a guy who can make a play out there," Matheny said. "I think he just continues to show us that he's going to be an option to throw out there."

• Because of the number of pitchers the Cardinals wanted to get work on Thursday, lefty Marco Gonzales was only able to throw one inning in relief. Matheny acknowledged that the organization is nearing the point in spring where it has to decide Gonzales' early-season fit. If it's in Triple-A, the Cardinals will send him to Minor League camp soon so he can build up arm strength through extended outings. He'll remain in big league camp if the club still considers him a candidate for a bullpen job.

Gonzales allowed three hits, including a home run, and two runs in his appearance against the Tigers.

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.