Molina Heads to Injured List with Knizner Called Up

photo: Yadier Molina (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals announced prior to tonight’s (Friday, May 31) game that they have placed catcher Yadier Molina on the 10-day Injured List with a right thumb tendon strain retroactive to May 29.  Rookie catcher Andrew Knizner (KIZZ-ner) had his contract purchased from the Memphis Redbirds (AAA) and was added to the Cardinals active roster for tonight’s game against Chicago.

Molina, 36, a nine-time National League All-Star and Rawlings Gold Glove winner, was batting .265 with 4 home runs and 33 RBI through 50 games this season and had started 49-of-53 games through May 28.  This will be the sixth time Molina has been placed on the Injured List over his 16-year Major League career, last appearing on the I.L. from May 6-June 4, 2018 causing him to miss 26 games.

Knizner, 24, the Cardinals seventh round selection (226th overall) in the June 2016, First-Year Player Draft out of North Carolina State University, has been the starting catcher in Memphis, appearing in 37 games while batting .286 with 5 home runs, 17 RBI and eight doubles.

He has a career batting average of .307 over 279 minor league games with 30 HR and 155 RBI.  The right-handed hitting backstop has hit safely in 72 percent of his career games not going more than two games without a hit during the 2019 season.

Defensively, Knizner has thrown out 17-of-32 attempted base stealers (53.1%) this season, with his 17 runners caught stealing leading all Pacific Coast League and Triple-A catchers while ranking T-9th among all minor league catchers.

A member of the 2018 Pacific Coast League Championship Redbirds squad, Knizner was named an All-Star in the Midwest League (2017) and prestigious Arizona Fall League (2017).  He was selected to the 2018 All-Star Futures Game for the USA Team in Washington D.C., last July.

Knizner will wear uniform No. 7.

Brian Walton’s take

Matt Wieters (St. Louis Cardinals)

In any other year, a Molina move to the IL could mean ample playing time for a prospect as good as Knizner, currently ranked no. 4 in the system by The Cardinal Nation. However, in 2019 the Cardinals have a proven MLB starter in reserve in Matt Wieters, who has hit well in the rare occasions he has been called upon. As a result, I would not expect to see Knizner playing much. Doubly so with two Cubs series in the next week and the Cardinals struggling.

While Molina’s slash line of .265/.294/.397/.690 has not been particularly impressive, he has been exceptional at bringing runners home, with 33 RBI as noted above.

According to manager Mike Shildt, Molina has a small ligament tear between his thumb and forefinger and is scheduled to get a second medical opinion following the MRI that disclosed the tear.

At Memphis this season, Knizner has had a typical season for him offensively, hitting right around .300 (.286) with some, but not a lot of pop (SLG of .450), and a solid .805 OPS. Reports on his defense behind the plate are of steady improvement.

The Cardinals had one 40-man roster spot open after the release of Luke Gregerson earlier this month.

Veteran Joe Hudson should see the majority of the time behind the plate for Memphis during Knizner’s absence. He will be backed up by Jose Godoy, promoted from Springfield on Friday.

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