PITTSBURGH -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said he would do whatever he could to push the timetable on his return from thumb surgery, and he was open to wherever that rehab took him as long as it returned him swiftly.
He makes the first stride back to St. Louis on Tuesday by going to Springfield, Mo.
He could be back sooner than expected.
Molina will go through a full workout with the Cardinals' Class AA affiliate on Tuesday and manager Mike Matheny said the Gold Glove winner could be formally assigned to a rehab assignment and appear the game Wednesday. That would give him two games at the Class AA affiliate before being considered for a promotion to the major-league roster for the weekend series against the Cubs.
Matheny said carrying three catchers on the active roster before it expands on Sept. 1 would be "a nice problem to have."
He said Molina's return would be a day-by-day decision.
Following Molina to Springfield will be starter Michael Wacha. The righty, who has missed more than two months with a stress reaction in his right shoulder, will throw a live batting practice to minor-leaguers on Wednesday. His next step would be determined after the results of his 40-pitch outing before that game and in a controlled situation similar to spring training. The Cardinals have described Wacha's return as mid-September if they continue to ready him as a starter. The 40-pitch workout would be simulating three innings -- which would be the equivalent of the first or second week of March if the spring training model is followed.
The Cardinals assigned infielder Greg Garcia to Class AA Springfield Tuesday so that he can return quicker to the majors. He must remain with the assignment 10 days -- or until the team's season ends. Class AA Springfield's season will end before Memphis' so Garcia is there, and it's likely that any assignments the Cardinals make in the coming days will be done the same way to assure a quicker return.
Tyler Lyons was brought up to add some needed innings insurance for the club during this series. He could return by Friday and open up a spot for Molina if the Cardinals feel he's ready.
Matheny said it would be a medical decision completely for Molina.
When he's cleared health-wise, then the Cardinals are ready to have him.
Friday would be seven weeks to the day since Molina had surgery.
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