8/14/2014 8:27 P.M. ET
Yadi catches for first time since surgery
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- On Thursday, 34 days after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, veteran catcher Yadier Molina crouched down to catch his first bullpen session since the injury.
Manager Mike Matheny noted afterward that Molina is on a quicker-than-expected track to recovery, as the medical staff has given him clearance to reintegrate baseball activities into his daily regimen. It was announced at the time of the surgery that Molina was expected to miss eight to 12 weeks. He will reach the five-week mark on Friday.
"I know right now that he is feeling like he wants to push it," Matheny said. "That's exactly what I would want him to do."
Molina, wearing a soft cast on his throwing hand, caught without issue and was able to lightly throw back the ball. Before heading out on a rehab assignment, he will have to show an ability to throw without a cast as well as swing a bat. Matheny expects gripping a bat and hitting to be the last things accomplished.
He also lauded the job Molina has done to stay fit while he's been inactive, and described Molina as "looking lighter than he did in Spring Training."
Molina, through a team spokesperson, declined a request to provide an update on his recovery.
Matheny: Taveras has 'a lot to learn'
ST. LOUIS -- Though manager Mike Matheny's decision to sit Oscar Taveras on Thursday was part of an overall shakeup designed to stack the lineup with right-handed bats, he specifically cited the day off as an opportunity for Taveras to revisit some of his recent mental and physical lapses.
"He's got a lot to learn. He has a lot of things that he needs to improve on in every aspect of his game," Matheny said. "He can view it as a day off, or he can view it as a day to get better."
Matheny said there "have been plenty of conversations since" an episode of lethargic baserunning on Wednesday kept Taveras from scoring from first on a two-out double. The awkward run from first-to-third initially had the Cardinals concerned that Taveras might have injured himself. They later found that not to be the case.
That's when it became another teaching point.
"A lot of that was bad turns," Matheny said. "The aggressiveness wasn't there."
Matheny also highlighted an at-bat in Wednesday's game in which Taveras was slow to take off to first after being frustrated with a ground ball. He was nearly thrown out in a double play as a result.
"He wants to do his part. He wants to have a big at-bat right there," Matheny said. "But your part is to get to first base as fast as you can. And [there are] reminders that those things aren't going to work. We're here to win every out, every plate. Every turn on the bases means a lot. There are a group of guys around here who are going to go about it with everything they've got. We need everyone else to be doing the same."
Taveras, after putting together a seven-game hitting streak immediately after becoming the everyday right fielder, went 2-for-20 with six strikeouts on the most recent road trip. Through 150 big league plate appearances, heis batting .206/.247/.286.
Matheny would not commit to whether Taveras will be back in the lineup on Friday, though he did say that Taveras has been receptive to feedback.
Motte unlikely to return before September
ST. LOUIS -- Though right-handed reliever Jason Motte is not attaching a specific time frame to his recovery from a strained lower back, listening to him provide an update on his status suggests that a return before September is unlikely.
Motte, who was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 8 (retroactive to Aug. 2) when he couldn't shake stiffness in his back, said on Thursday that he continues to feel the discomfort and has therefore not resumed throwing. Until that discomfort subsides, he will remain in a holding pattern.
"It's one of those things where I'm just waiting to get back to 100 percent," said Motte, who is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday. "We don't want to go out there and try to push it and then [have a setback]. We're just kind of doing stuff to get it to where it needs to be so we can get it to where I can do more."
Before the Cardinals will activate Motte from the DL, he will have to progress through a throwing program and get in some work during a Minor League rehab assignment. That should take him through the end of August. With rosters expanding in September, the club could then activate him without having to make a corresponding roster move.
"We were hoping everything would be fine before the road trip was over," Motte said. "We're just taking it one day at a time, seeing what we can do to help it that day. As long as we're not going backward, I think it's going well. It's feeling better each day, so that's a positive."
• Michael Wacha (stress reaction in right shoulder) continues to work through a throwing program and has extended his flat-ground throwing to a distance of 120 feet to 150 feet, Matheny reported on Thursday. Wacha has still not been cleared to throw off a mound.
• Triple-A Memphis extended its winning streak to five games on Wednesday behind a go-ahead RBI single by outfielder Stephen Piscotty in the ninth inning. The hit was the third of the game for Piscotty. Pete Kozma contributed to the come-from-behind win with a two-run homer in the sixth. Marco Gonzales earned a no-decision after allowing four runs on four hits and two walks in five innings.
• With a walk-off homer by first baseman Curt Smith, Double-A Springfield won an 11-inning game over Frisco on Wednesday. Starter Kurt Heyer pitched five scoreless innings, and Joey Donofrio closed it out with three scoreless frames in relief.
• FOX Sports Midwest announced that the Cardinals' home game against the Reds next Tuesday will be shown to local troops deployed overseas as part of FSM's 10th annual "This One's For You" initiative. The game will be shown to members of the 220th Engineer Company of the Missouri National Guard in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and more than 1,000 family members and friends of those troops will attend the game at Busch Stadium.
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.