With Adams out, Molina makes rare start at first

With Adams out, Molina makes rare start at first

ST. LOUIS -- With Matt Adams sidelined by illness and Tony Cruz boasting solid career numbers against Reds starter Mike Leake, manager Mike Matheny saw an opportunity to unplug veteran catcher Yadier Molina from behind the plate without sacrificing his bat from the lineup on Saturday.

Molina moved to first base for the series' second game, making this his first start at the position in 2014 and just the fourth in his 11-year career. Though he has been sparingly used at the position, Molina stays ready for the possibility by taking ground balls at first base almost daily.

"He's got a good feel for the game over there," Matheny said. "It does take a little less out of him, too."

Molina had been the starting catcher in 20 of 22 games played since he returned from thumb surgery.

Cruz, who had the game-winning hit for the Cardinals on Thursday, entered Saturday 4-for-7 against Leake. This was his first start since Molina returned to the field, as he has fallen behind both Molina and A.J. Pierzynski on the depth chart.

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