As they came through the media sessions in the Winter Warm-Up, one by one or sometimes in groups, the St. Louis Cardinals players and front office voiced their support for Yadier Molina’s response to Kris Bryant and Ryan Dempster’s claim that St. Louis was “boring”. On Sunday, Molina had his time at the podium and a chance to further explain his feelings.
“I said to the guys, we are like a family,” Molina said. “We have to stick together. We have to defend our self. And we have to defend our ground. Whoever says something about us, we are going to be there to defend us.”
Other than Jason Motte, who besides closing the 2011 World Series for the Cardinals later pitched in Chicago and knows Bryant, Molina said he had not spoken with anyone from the Cubs about the exchange.
“St. Louis is home,” Molina said. “If anybody has to say anything bad to my home, I’m going to be there for us.”
Obviously, the comments have provided extra fuel to the rivalry between the two teams and seems to especially have galvanized the Cardinals. But this is the middle of January. How much can that carry over to the season?
“Oh, it will,” Molina assured. “It will carry. I can’t wait to get on the field. I can’t wait to get on the field. But, at the same time, we have to be focused and playing our game, you know? We are going to keep that in mind, whatever they say, but at the same time we are going to play our game. This year is going to be different. I guarantee you that. We are going to be different. So, hopefully we stay healthy.”
One of the biggest differences for St. Louis in 2019 is the addition of Paul Goldschmidt. Molina was on a boat in Jupiter, FL when he got the news the first baseman had been traded to the Cardinals.
“I was like, ‘Oh, give me a beer!” Molina laughed. “Give me a beer, please, because this is great news. I can’t wait to be on the same field with Goldy and the other guys.”
The addition of Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller, plus the returning mix of youth and veterans has Yadi confident the three year playoff drought can be ended.
“I’m 100 percent sure that we have what we need to win the series,” he said. “Right now, it just depends on us. Try to stay healthy. And after that, we are going to show the world that we can do it.”
As for the health topic, Molina is still recovering from a cleanup procedure on his right knee a few weeks ago.
“Right now I’m probably 50 percent,” Molina said. “I will keep working with my rehab down there in Jupiter. We are planning to be ready for the season. We are planning to be 100 percent ready.”
The procedure removed a little bone which was causing a lot of pain for the catcher.
“It was pretty bad,” Molina admitted. “Every time I hit the ground, I had a bone in my knee that was bothering me for a long time. Last year it was way harder than ever. But, for me, I wanted to be there. I don’t care if I’m hurt or not. I was doing good with my beat. I wanted to be there. I decided to get surgery after. We decided that probably in June-July. But, after the season was done, they invited me to Japan. OK, I’ll do it after, because I really wanted to go to Japan.”
The subject of Molina’s contract came up, which has two years remaining on it.
“I don’t know,” he explained. “I mean, I don’t know. Right now, I’ve still got this year and one more year. But I made a statement down in Puerto Rico, that I would love to play one more year, but only with the Cardinals. If the Cardinals want me, I’ll be here for him. But if not, I’ll retire.”
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI