5/25/2014 7:43 P.M. ET
Molina gets rare break with Wainwright on hill
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina are batterymates rarely separated. The only time Wainwright threw to anyone but Molina in 2013 was during the two-week period when Molina was on the disabled list. This season, Molina had been behind the plate for each of Wainwright's first 10 starts.
But on Sunday, Wainwright took the mound seeking to become the National League's first eight-game winner with someone else calling the pitches.
Tony Cruz made his sixth start of the season after manager Mike Matheny decided that this would be an optimal day for Molina to sit. With off-days rare for the veteran catcher, Molina even skipped batting practice for a night. A day off now sets Molina up to be ready to start all three games against the Yankees.
"Trying to pick out days [of rest] early on, and we had our eye on this one for a while," Matheny said. "It's something I know Yadi really enjoys, for the most part. He was up to speed with what we've been trying to do."
Cruz caught Wainwright four times in 2012 and twice more last season while Molina was on the mend. Wainwright went 2-4 in those starts and entered Sunday with a 4.13 ERA in 52 1/3 innings working with Cruz.
Molina's absence on Sunday might even disappoint Reds fans, who have taken enjoyment in taunting Molina at Great American Ball Park. On Saturday, Molina answered those boos with a solo homer, his 10th at this ballpark. At no other road venue has Molina hit more. His 36 RBIs at Great American Ball Park are also tops in an opposing ballpark for Molina, who has hit .325/.360/.518 here.
"I've been coming here for four years, and they boo me every time," Molina said. "I don't care about that. It's not about me. It's about the team. They boo me for some reason, I don't know why."
He quickly corrected that last part, clearly recalling the 2010 fracas that began when Molina took exception to a Brandon Phillips shin-guard tap.
"I know why," he said. "But it's been four years. I don't care."
Matheny considers Girardi friend, mentor
CINCINNATI -- The Yankees come to town for a three-game series beginning on Monday, and while much of the attention is on the Derek Jeter farewell tour, this also will be a series that pits former teammates as now opposing managers.
New York manager Joe Girardi closed his 15-year playing career in St. Louis, where he appeared in 16 games in 2003. Mike Matheny was the Cardinals' primary catcher that season.
Girardi became a big league manager before Matheny retired as a player, which is why the third-year Cardinals skipper sought out advice from Girardi upon being hired as manager by the Cardinals in November 2011.
"I'm a fan of Joe Girardi and how he goes about things and how he has handled a lot of adversity, how he's handled success," Matheny said. "I think our guys have a mutual respect for the game, a mutual respect for how it's supposed to be played, and how they're supposed to represent their franchise and their city. I think that's a great compliment.
"He's kind of been a resource since I got this opportunity. We have a lot of similarities, I think, in our thought processes, and just in general. It was nice to be able to be teammates and watch how he went about his business, and now kind of watching and following ever since he started managing."
The Yankees and Cardinals have combined for 38 World Series championships, and both have won more than any other team in their respective league. They also are two of four teams to be multiple World Series champs since 2000.
While the Cardinals will welcome Jeter to town with a sendoff gift for his impending retirement, former Cardinal Carlos Beltran will not be making the trip to St. Louis. He remains in New York while rehabbing an elbow injury. The Cardinals had planned to present Beltran with his 2013 National League championship ring had he made the trip.
• Matheny described outfielder Peter Bourjos as "better, but still off" a day after Bourjos was sent back to the hotel while fighting a stomach virus. Bourjos was not in Sunday's starting lineup, but Matheny did expect to have him available off the bench.
• Actor Charlie Sheen and Indiana University head men's basketball coach Tom Crean visited with various members of the Cardinals organization during afternoon stretch and batting practice. Sheen shook hands with several of the relievers and had an exchange with closer Trevor Rosenthal, who asked Sheen if he wanted to play catch. Crean spent an extended period of time visiting with general manager John Mozeliak and Matheny.
• With an RBI single in Triple-A Memphis' Saturday night loss to Oklahoma City, top prospect Oscar Taveras extended his RBI streak to five consecutive games. He has driven in 39 runs on the season and is 14-for-27 with four multihit games in the last six days.
• The Yankees have the following pitchers scheduled to start against the Cardinals during their upcoming series: Chase Whitley (0-1, 1.00 ERA) on Monday, David Phelps (1-1, 3.18 ERA) on Tuesday, and Hiroki Kuroda (3-3, 4.55 ERA) on Wednesday. This series against the Yankees represents the Cardinals' first Interleague matchup of the season.
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.