No structural damage in Molina's knee
MRI exam shows inflammation; catcher could miss just a few days to rest
ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina and the Cardinals believe they have dodged a substantial setback, as an MRI exam taken on Molina's bothersome right knee revealed no structural damage. Rather, Molina has been diagnosed with knee inflammation, which the All-Star catcher hopes will subside with just a few days of rest.
Molina, who was unavailable for Sunday's series finale against the Marlins, said that he has been dealing with knee discomfort -- pain that he described as "like a knife, a pinching" -- for the last month. The pain was especially exaggerated when Molina ran the bases on Friday.
"That's what scared me," said Molina, whose position makes him susceptible to knee problems. "But I'm glad everything is all right."
With rest on Sunday and Monday (a team off-day), Molina projected that he could be ready to return to the lineup as early as Tuesday. The Cardinals are making no such guarantees, but have kept the possibility open by opting not to place Molina on the disabled list.
Should a DL stint be needed, Molina could backdate it to July 6, which would allow him to return during the first series after the All-Star break.
Tony Cruz will start in Molina's absence, and Ty Wigginton will stand in as the Cardinals' backup catcher option. Wigginton has never caught in a Major League game.
If Molina can get back on the field this coming week, he said he anticipates fulfilling his duties as the elected starting catcher for the National League's All-Star team. Molina learned on Saturday that he had beaten out San Francisco's Buster Posey in a close fan vote, and that he had finished with more votes than any other player in the league.
"To be recognized by the fans that voted for me, it's a good feeling," Molina said. "These are the best fans in baseball right here in St. Louis. They appreciate everything I do here. And to have that many votes, I didn't think in my life I'd have that many votes. That made me feel good."
Slated to pitch Sunday, Waino weighs All-Star Game
ST. LOUIS -- While now aware that Adam Wainwright has the prerogative to pitch in the All-Star Game if he wants, the Cardinals have not decided whether they'll recommend he do so.
A change in the Cardinals' pitching schedule now has Wainwright set to pitch Tuesday and next Sunday, the final game before the All-Star break. A rule change implemented in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement now allows "Sunday pitchers" to throw a maximum of one inning in the All-Star Game.
There's also a clause, though, that allows those pitchers to remove themselves from the active roster ahead of time if they know they will not be available to pitch. In those cases, a replacement pitcher can then be named to the squad.
"I enjoy the All-Star Game for these guys; I think it's a huge reward. But I also understand that it can be taxing on them, too," manager Mike Matheny said. "We have to weigh all things as we get closer."
Tuesday would be Wainwright's normal day to throw a side session, so a short All-Star Game appearance could take the place of that. The Cardinals, however, also have to factor in when Wainwright will pitch coming out of the break. The club has not set its rotation beyond next weekend.
"We'll have that conversation," Matheny said, "and give you guys a little more information as we go."
Kozma returns from three-day break
ST. LOUIS -- After three consecutive days off, Pete Kozma was back in the Cardinals' lineup Sunday against the Marlins.
The shortstop was given Thursday, Friday and Saturday off to search for his swing and build his confidence at the plate. Kozma said he didn't identify anything "out of the ordinary" as he spent the time working in the batting cages and watching game film.
"He took some great steps," said manager Mike Matheny. "It's that fine line of how much time, and I think we gave him a good amount. He got some good work in and made some great adjustments. Overall, we knew going in that we wanted to give him time to get his mind right and get some work in and get him back out there to do what he's been doing."
Entering Sunday's contest, Kozma was batting .236, the lowest among Cardinals starters, and was hitless in his last 17 at-bats, which, after an 0-for-5 performance against the Angels on Wednesday, prompted Matheny to let his shortstop take some time off.
"I feel different after a couple days of rest, the body feels a lot better," Kozma said. "I'm just ready to go out there today."
While Kozma's numbers at the plate are lacking, the Cardinals are confident in his fielding abilities at shortstop. Kozma has committed four errors through 79 games this season. Daniel Descalso, who started at started at shortstop in Kozma's absence, had a pair of miscues on Saturday against the Marlins.
• The Cardinals have talked with Oscar Taveras and Major League Baseball officials about removing Taveras from the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game roster. He has been dealing with a nagging right ankle sprain and is still on the Triple-A disabled list. With Taveras pulling out of the game, second baseman Kolten Wong will be the Cardinals' lone representative in next Sunday's game.
• A number of Cardinals players and coaches will be spending Monday's off-day on the golf course, participating in the 2013 Pujols Family Foundation Golf Classic at the Meadowbrook Country Club. For the second straight year, Matt Holliday will serve as the tournament's host. Albert Pujols is expected to attend the event since Monday is also an off day for the Angels.
• The Cardinals, FOX Sports Midwest and the Cardinals Radio Network will host a Cardinals Care auction during Tuesday's broadcast of the Cardinals-Astros game. The auction will run for seven innings and include unique items and experiences to bid on. A full list of auction items can be found by visiting cardinals.com/tvauction or cardinals.com/radioauction. All proceeds raised will be donated to Cardinals Care, the organization's charitable foundation.
• Nick Additon improved to 6-4 with a win for Triple-A Memphis on Saturday. Additon pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.