Yadi pulled after taking two foul balls to mask

Catcher enters concussion protocol; status unclear for rest of 2017

Yadi pulled after taking two foul balls to mask

ST. LOUIS -- Knocked out of Monday's 10-2 loss to the Cubs after taking consecutive foul balls of his mask, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was quickly ushered into Major League Baseball's concussion protocol. How he responds to those tests will determine whether Molina takes the field again this season.

Making his league-leading 133rd start behind the plate, Molina was hit in nearly identical spots by foul tips off the bat of Kris Bryant to open the seventh. A team athletic trainer, along with manager Mike Matheny, checked on him after the first impact. Molina convinced them he could continue.

"I needed to see what he looked like and how he felt," Matheny said. "He said he was fine and just needed a second. We've been through that conversation many, many times. The trainer put him through a couple things and he was OK."

The relief lasted for only seconds. On Sandy Alcantara's next pitch, Bryant fouled a second ball of Molina's mask. The veteran catcher fell to his knees, and Matheny immediately summoned backup Carson Kelly to get ready.

"At that particular point, it's just time to get him out," Matheny said. "Just how he reacted, I could tell when he took a knee."

Molina threw up as he headed for the clubhouse and immediately went into a series of concussion tests. As a result, he was unavailable for comment after the game.

Before the 2011 season, Major League Baseball implemented new concussion-testing procedures that include mandatory baseline neuropsychological testing for players during Spring Training. Those baseline tests are then compared to testing done after a player is believed to have sustained a concussion. MLB's medical director has final say on whether a player is cleared.

It's an issue, of course, that is especially personal to Matheny, whose playing career ended due to trauma sustained from multiple concussions.

"[I flinch] every time. I hate it," he said. "It doesn't normally hurt. It just doesn't. It hurts in a lot of other places you get hit with a foul ball. But sometimes they just catch you right and they just knock you back a little bit."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. 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.