JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Yadier Molina caught five innings and took three called strikes in his lone at-bat for the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-3 victory over an Atlanta Braves split squad on Friday.
Braves starter Jhoulys Chacin, who allowed three hits in three scoreless innings, had been unaware Molina wouldn’t be putting up a fight.
“I know he hasn’t been playing so I thought he might take a couple pitches,” Chacin said. “They were fastballs right down the middle.”
Molina caught three innings but did not hit in his spring debut on Wednesday coming off thumb surgery. He hit using a machine earlier in the day but doesn’t expect to bat in a game for another week to 10 days, and joked that if he’d taken a cut, “I’d be in trouble.”
Molina said it’s important to get a good amount of playing time before the season begins. He won’t apologize for scaring fans when he made a sweeping tag at the plate on Wednesday.
“It’s not the same to be training and to be in the games,” Molina said. “You’ve got to be in game shape. It’s so important to know the pitchers. I want to be back there.”
The Cardinals stole six bases in seven attempts, including a double steal that led to a run. They lead the majors with 19 steals in 24 attempts, most of them by prospects.
“Yeah, running Redbirds,” manager Mike Matheny said with a smile. “Let’s keep close track of who’s doing all that. Just about every spring we bring in all these young blazers.”
Carlos Martinez gave up a run in two innings in his first spring start for St. Louis.
Reid Brignac hit a pinch two-run homer and Blake Lalli had two hits and an RBI for the Braves.