Yadier Molina left Friday night’s game due to right foot soreness, after appearing to hurt his foot on a swing during a fifth-inning at-bat. Molina struck out on the wayward swing, and was replaced by Andrew Knizner at catcher in the top of the sixth. Molina will undergo testing to determine the extent of the injury, and any sort of absence would represent a big loss to the St. Louis lineup. Over his first 68 plate appearances, Molina is hitting a scorching .339/.382/.661 with five home runs, with a 180 OPS+ that ranks tied for 14th among all qualified batters in the majors. While this level of offensive production wasn’t expected to continue, it was at least a good sign that Molina was bouncing back from a pair of subpar years at the plate.
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- In other Cardinals injury news, Tyler O’Neill was activated off the 10-day IL yesterday. O’Neill saw some action in the 5-4 victory over the Reds, entering the game as the new left fielder during a double-switch in the sixth inning, though he didn’t start due to a minor foot injury. Manager Mike Shildt told reporters (including Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat) that O’Neill fouled a ball off his foot during a simulated game on Thursday, though obviously the issue wasn’t serious enough to either prevent O’Neill’s IL activation, or to keep the outfielder from taking the field. O’Neill hit the injured list due to a groin strain back on April 11, and is looking to get on track after hitting only .138/.167/.276 in his first 30 PA of this young season.
- With O’Neill back and Harrison Bader also approaching a return from his forearm injury, Matt Carpenter looks like the odd man out of the Cardinals lineup. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak told reporters (including Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that “those at-bats are going to be more difficult to find if production isn’t there” for Carpenter, who has an .077/.213/.154 slash line in 47 plate appearances. Despite some outstanding hard-contact numbers, Carpenter is striking out and swinging-and-missing at a high volume, Frederickson notes, while also posting a career-worst walk rate. It represents the low point of over two seasons of struggles for Carpenter, who has been a below-average hitter since the start of the 2019 campaign. The Cardinals had already addressed this decline by relegating Carpenter to a part-time role at best heading into the season, and Mozeliak’s comments suggest that Carpenter could be hard-pressed to receive any significant playing time going forward. Carpenter is in the final guaranteed year of a two-year, $39MM extension, and though Frederickson said that there wasn’t any indication that the Cardinals might simply eat the remaining salary by releasing Carpenter, it doesn’t make much sense to use a roster spot on a scuffling player who isn’t part of the team’s future plans.