Yadi managing pain, but encouraged by improvement

Cards catcher may be available on defense, but inability to swing a challenge for bench

Yadi managing pain, but encouraged by improvement

SAN FRANCISCO -- Yadier Molina, absent from the Cardinals' Game 3 National League Championship Series lineup, still took the field on Tuesday to test his strained left oblique. After several minutes of throwing and catching in the outfield, Molina came away encouraged by his continued improvement and is hopeful to start taking light swings on Wednesday.

"My throwing was better than yesterday," said Molina, who injured his oblique in Game 2 on Sunday, a 5-4 Cardinals win. "I felt like I was able to reach more with my arm. Everything went well."

Manager Mike Matheny said he would be comfortable using Molina as a defensive replacement, if needed, in Game 3, though the concern would be his limitations on the offensive end. That was why the Cardinals chose to start A.J. Pierzynski, ending Molina's string of catching 83 consecutive Cardinals playoff games.

  Date Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 11 SF 3, STL 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 12 STL 5, SF 4 video
Gm 3 Oct. 14 SF 5, STL 4 video
Gm 4 Oct. 15 SF 6, STL 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 16 SF 6, STL 3 video

Though Molina has been told that he cannot exacerbate the injury by playing through it, he does understand that any appearance the rest of this month will likely be a painful one. He noted that the injury is causing him to have trouble sleeping and breathing.

Molina said he will likely receive a cortisone shot in his side within the next 24 hours to help alleviate some of that discomfort, if even temporarily.

"The pain is there," Molina said. "You have to understand that this is a serious injury. But right now, with treatment, I can play catch, and I think I can play catch. The problem is going to be swinging.

"I am going to have to play with the pain. The pain is still there. I have to find a way to be out there and get through it."

With Molina's status questionable for Game 3, Matheny will have to be cautious in how he utilizes the other two catchers on his roster. Pinch-hitting Tony Cruz, for instance, would leave Molina as the only backup to Pierzynski if for some reason Pierzynski had to come out of the game late.

Molina exits with oblique strain

Video: Molina exits with left oblique strain

"There's no question, having a player with limited ability, as far as not being able to play both offense and defense, plays in," Matheny said. "We are not completely ruling out that Yadi can step up there and take a bat. It's what he does when he's up there. … Yeah, there is some challenge now into how we are going to use our bench."

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.