7/13/2013 8:30 P.M. ET
Molina gets break from slump, rests knee
By Brian Hedger / Special to MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who turned 31 on Saturday, got the night off after making his first back-to-back starts since sitting two straight games last weekend trying to heal up from inflammation in his right knee.
Molina, who was elected to be the National League's starting catcher in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, is mired in an 0-for-16 slump and went 0-for-7 in the first two games of a four-game series this weekend against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He's also 2-for-12 (.167) in his career facing Cubs starter Matt Garza, who started on Saturday night.
Tony Cruz started for the Cardinals instead and caught starter Lance Lynn.
"[Molina] wanted in there, but [it's] a good day for Tony to get in there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It was my idea. I don't worry about Yadier with matchups. I was just kind of reading his body and reading how he's moving. He said he feels good [and] thinks he feels worse after he has a day off, but that's Yadier."
Molina said on Friday that his knee -- which was surgically repaired in 2007 -- was feeling better with each passing day. The rigors of catching, however, are not easy to overcome. Neither are slumps at the plate when trying to fight through nagging aches and pains.
Matheny, a retired catcher who caught more than 10,000 innings in the Majors, doesn't sound too concerned about Molina's offensive production. He's still carrying a hefty .335 batting average through 316 at-bats, tops in the NL, and his 33 multi-hit games are tied for third in the league.
"[Slumps] happen … that's it," Matheny said. "It's inevitable. He's going to be just fine. I think days like this will be good to just kind of relax his mind. He's really trying to work hard through [the knee issue] and sometimes a day [off] doesn't hurt."
Cruz made his 10th start behind the plate and has appeared in 23 games -- most recently on Wednesday against the Astros. He's 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position at the plate entering Saturday's action, and the Cardinals were 7-0 when Cruz got a hit.
Adams excelling as Holliday's temporary replacement
CHICAGO -- Matt Adams is adjusting to the role of lineup "fill-in" for the Cardinals, who are playing the rest of this series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field without injured star left fielder Matt Holliday.
After Holliday pulled up and grabbed his right hamstring in a game on Thursday night, he immediately left the lineup and Adams filled the gap. The 24-year-old rookie also started at first base on Friday and Saturday, with Allen Craig moving from first to Holliday's spot in the outfield.
If Holliday's hamstring isn't healed enough to get back in the starting lineup following the four-day All-Star break, Adams could find himself with a short-term everyday role.
"At first it was tough," Adams said. "But we've got great guys on this team that helped me develop a plan, especially [hitting coach John Mabry] and [assistant hitting coach Bengie Molina] with the hitting side of it, just figuring out a plan to do it every day when you get to the park and stick to it, so it becomes a routine."
Despite going hitless in his first seven at-bats of this series, Adams had a .309 batting average coming into Saturday's game with seven home runs and 25 RBIs in just 123 at-bats. On Saturday, he promptly singled and scored in the second inning off Cubs starter Matt Garza to give the Cardinals an early lead.
Adams might not have an everyday spot, but he's already made a good impression since debuting with the Cardinals last year.
"He does a great job off the bench [or] starting," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's done a nice job defensively. There's just not a whole lot that we've seen not to like. It can be [a tough role], but he's done a terrific job so far. We just want him to keep doing exactly what he's doing."
Wainwright unlikely to pitch in All-Star Game
CHICAGO -- Nothing is finalized, but Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright is likely to decline the opportunity to pitch in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in New York.
Wainwright is scheduled to make a start on Sunday night against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, which is the last day before the All-Star break. All-Star pitchers who throw on Sunday have the option of pitching a maximum of one inning in the All-Star Game or opting out and still attending the festivities.
Wainwright doesn't want to be too hasty with making his decision final, so he'll wait to see what happens on Sunday.
"I don't think you can make a [final] decision on it until we see what happens [Sunday]," he said prior to Saturday night's game in Chicago. "I mean, if the game were to get rained out and I backed out for no reason that would be silly. But if I pitch [Sunday], then I would probably forgo the chance to pitch in the All-Star Game to allow for some rest."
The one-inning limit on All-Stars who pitch Sunday also plays into his thinking.
"I would only be allowed to pitch one inning anyway, so I'd rather see another deserving person make the team that's not on the team," Wainwright said.
Someone like Cardinals closer Edward Mujica, perhaps?
"Too early still, to say, but he's obviously had a very good first half," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said on Saturday.
Mujica had 26 saves coming into Saturday night's game, with a 2.27 ERA. He was also holding opponents to a paltry .188 batting average against and picked up five saves and a win in his last six outings -- all within the last week.
As for Wainwright, Matheny didn't have a strong feeling on it one way or the other.
"He's going to do what he thinks is best and how his body feels," Matheny said. "We've been riding him pretty hard, so I do respect any decision he makes."
• Shortstop Pete Kozma didn't start on Saturday night against the Cubs, as his offensive struggles continue to vex him of late. Kozma, who's hitting just .229 for the season, went 0-for-4 in a 3-2 win on Friday afternoon to extend a hitless stretch to 26 straight at-bats, including 0-for-7 in the series. Kozma did make a great play at shortstop on Friday to prevent a Cubs rally, but Daniel Descalso got the nod instead against Cubs No.1 starter Matt Garza.
• Cardinals catcher Rob Johnson, who was brought up from Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday after the team released Ty Wigginton, said his role right now is just to stay ready for any situation that Matheny might give him. Johnson was ready on Friday afternoon and tripled with two outs. He then scored what turned out to be the game-winning run on Matt Carpenter's double.
Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.