(Busch Stadium) While it’s never ideal to lose a player the caliber of Yadier Molina, the St. Louis Cardinals do have some comfort knowing that a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Matt Wieters will now take over the bulk of innings behind the plate.
“What Matt has been able to provide for us already when he’s played has been impressive,” Team President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said. “Now he’s going to get an opportunity to catch everyday. Obviously, Andrew Knizner gets the opportunity to come to the big leagues. He will serve more in the backup role, but certainly make sure we get him some playing time as well.”
Wieters has hit .476 (10-21) in the six games he’s started this season. He’s hit a home run in the Cardinals last two games while Molina has been sidelined with the thumb issue.
“This is a pro’s pro,” Mike Shildt commented. “Capital P-R-O. He’s demonstrated from the very beginning, he was very intentional about his preparation…it’s been a luxury to have two guys with ten years of Major League time as your two catchers.”
Sporting a career .307 average with 30 home runs and 155 runs batted in over 279 minor league games, Andrew Knizner also brings offensive upside to the team.
“I think the focus has been on his defensive skill-set and he continues to refine that,” Mozeliak said of the 24-year old’s progress this season at Memphis. “I think a lot of times when you have a position-change player, it’s about just getting those reps where you have your own self-confidence. I think he continues to improve day in and day out but the one thing that has excited all of us is just his offensive skill set.”
The call-up for Knizner may be earlier than expected, but his addition to the 40-man roster would have been necessary this off-season to protect his rights.
ANOTHER START FOR CABRERA
–Left-hander Génesis Cabrera will make his second big league start on Tuesday for the Cardinals. He allowed five runs (three earned) and struck out five batters in 3.2 innings during Wednesday’s debut against Philadelphia.
“It’s a hard start to judge because of some of the miscues,” Mozeliak said. “I think overall, his stuff looked way different than what all of us experience in Spring Training, so that was exciting to see. Clearly, an electric arm, has a chance to really be an exciting pitcher in the big leagues. A lot of people have asked me like ‘what do you see him as’ but his ability to start I think is exciting.”
Meanwhile, Alex Reyes will likely make his next start on Sunday with Memphis.
“He is still not cleared 100% to swing the bat,” Mozeliak said. “Until we get to that point, which we will slowly work into, he may just have to stand up there and be a soft out.”
Austin Gomber has still not yet been cleared to throw and will also go on paternity leave next week.
–Mozeliak has not spoken recently with Rick Ankiel regarding the former pitcher’s comeback attempt.
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports