photo: Yadier Molina (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Though St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak stated before Thursday’s homestand opener against the Cincinnati Reds that he is hopeful his club “is not going to have to make many more transactions,” he meant that would be the case after his club executed four more.
Following last night’s game, we optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to our Alternate Site.
Today, we activated C Yadier Molina from the Injured List and recalled RHP Jake Woodford from our Alternate Site.
Also, C Matt Wieters has been placed on the 10-day IL (left great toe contusion). pic.twitter.com/FNVkGDjGC6
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 20, 2020
Wieters will spend the next few days at home due to his broken toe, suffered via a foul ball in Chicago. For now, the 34-year old backstop will “step away” and return to training in a week, per Mozeliak.
Molina is the first of the team’s initial seven COVID positive cases to be activated. He was asymptomatic and Mozeliak noted that the catcher could do more during quarantine because he has “resources at home that others don’t.” The PBO said each case is different and fluid.
Molina went on the injured list on August 4 and manager Mike Shildt noted that the catcher spent “20 basic days in a row in isolation.” The catcher told his manager he couldn’t sleep last night in anticipation of returning. Molina also told Shildt, “I’ve got them,” in reference to playing in the remaining games. Shildt simply added, “Yadi is here to play” and literally laughed at a question about balancing the catcher’s workload.
Other COVID cases
Paul DeJong is headed to the alternate camp in Springfield to play through the weekend. The target for the starting shortstop to return to the active roster is Monday.
The last of the initial seven cases, pitcher Junior Fernandez has been cleared to return to baseball activities. Ryan Helsley is expected to clear today and the final two, outfielders Lane Thomas and Austin Dean are targeted for a Saturday approval.
Other news from Mozeliak and Shildt
Mozeliak said that while the team is “hopefully on the right side of the COVID curve,” he “does not want to feel like he can breathe again.” He prefers to stay in “crisis mode” rather than relax. He said he will breathe in 8-10 weeks.
The PBO noted several times during the pregame media discussion that the 10-day option rule (down this year from the usual 15) is “not ideal for an 8-to-10 week season” and not ideal “for an outbreak”. He also said “a 28-man roster in an outbreak is challenging.” Mozeliak said that a five-day intake process is about as streamlined as they can get. Can’t push a button and add players.
Mozeliak said that the club has an eye on the doubleheader next Thursday while keeping both Jake Woodford and Johan Oviedo on the active roster.
In a related point, both the field manager and the PBO suggested that Carlos Martinez is likely to return as a reliever even though he probably wants to come back as a starter. The right-hander threw today, but Shildt had not received a report yet. He mentioned it could take an extra 10-14 days to build Martinez up enough to start, but he could be available in short starts out of the pen sooner. But Shildt would not put a time table on Martinez’ return. Referring to the Martinez situation, Mozeliak noted, “It is a tough one.”
Shildt reiterated the Cardinals will stay in turn with the rotation for the Reds series, with Wainwright, Hudson, Kim and Ponce de Leon. Jack Flaherty will open the Royals home series on Monday.
The manager issued a reminder that the club had 1/3 of its roster out and half of the staff gone. He praised the staff for helping in other jobs and “keeping the train moving”. Most of all, he was glad that everyone is healthy, noting there were moments when rightfully they were anxious and nervous.
Almost all of the coaches who were sidelined have cleared, but since Mozeliak does not have permission to name them, he did not. Temporary coaching additions Russ Steinhorn and Roberto Espinoza have been returned to Springfield, where they have been joined by new addition Chris Swauger. The organization’s minor league field coordinator replaces Jose Oquendo, who remains with St. Louis as the third-base coach.
In other Springfield camp (non-)news, no players have been added to the 60-man pool since last week’s duo of Kramer Robertson and Bryan Dobzanski.
During Thursday’s FOX Sports Midwest telecast, analyst Rick Horton noted that during Wednesday’s game in Chicago, Molina and DeJong took several innings of live batting practice at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
The pitcher was prospect Matthew Liberatore, called up from Springfield. Horton noted the lefty was having trouble getting his breaking pitches across the plate. Liberatore is The Cardinal Nation’s third-ranked prospect.
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