Molina takes first full swings in Cardinals’ loss to Tigers
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Cardinals star Yadier Molina took his first full swings of spring training, going 0 for 3 Friday as St. Louis lost to the Detroit Tigers 2-0.
Working his way back from two offseason thumb surgeries, the eight-time Gold Glove catcher had four previous exhibition at-bats, but the team didn’t let him swing. Molina bunted once.
Calling his swing timing “terrible,” Molina saw 17 pitches and swung at 14. He twice grounded out before lofting a flyball to left field that was caught a step shy of the warning track.
In the regular season, they might become a home run.
“Hopefully,” Molina said. “That’s the idea — keep building the strength and when I hit the ball it will carry more.”
Molina later reiterated his belief that he will be ready for opening day.
Making his third spring start, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright looked for a measuring stick to evaluate his progress thus far. He found it in the big stick swung by Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera.
“His first at-bat I threw him all my pitches because I wanted to see reactions to each one,” Wainwright said. “There’s no better hitter to tell you exactly where you are at on your stuff.”
Wainwright gave up two runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Cabrera drew a walk the first time he came up. His lone hit came in the seventh, a single into right field off Jonathan Broxton.
After learning to play first base for the first month of spring, Matt Holliday made his first appearance in left field for St. Louis. The 12-year veteran didn’t need much time to readjust, robbing a home run from J.D. Martinez in the third.
Tigers starter Matt Boyd pitched five shutout innings, allowing only two hits while striking out seven.
Tigers: Boyd was sharp, helped by a boosted repertoire.
“His new slider seems to be a good addition,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “I think that helped him today. He threw strikes today.”
Cardinals: Wainwright stepped into the batter’s box in a game for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon last season. He fouled off two pitches while trying to bunt before successfully sacrificing Kolten Wong to third.
“Everything has come back very naturally this year,” Wainwright said.
Tigers: Ausmus said catcher James McCann (illness) could make the trip to Jupiter for Saturday’s game against Miami, potentially serving as the designated hitter. ... Cameron Maybin was scheduled to have an X-ray on Friday to check the healing progress of the non-displaced fracture in his wrist.
Cardinals: Catcher Brayan Pena’s sore throwing arm has responded to rest. Manager Mike Matheny said Pena is expected to play on Saturday.
Tigers: Detroit will play its second consecutive game in Jupiter. Daniel Norris draws the start against Miami’s Adam Conley.
Cardinals: Travel to Fort Myers, where Michael Wacha will start vs. Boston’s Joe Kelly, a former Cardinals pitcher.