The question isn’t new for Carson Kelly, he’s been asked literally hundreds of times–how does he replace Yadier Molina?
“I have to be Carson Kelly, I can’t be Yadier Molina,” responded Kelly when asked again before Sunday’s game. The 23-year old catcher was recalled by the St. Louis Cardinals after Molina needed surgery for a pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma.
“It’s very unfortunate to see what happened, my prayers are with him and his family,” continued Kelly. “You never want to see something like that but I’m going to do everything I can. I’m going to be the best Carson Kelly I can be and help this team any way I can.”
That philosophy is not only helpful for Kelly, but for anyone else on the team that may feel they need to try and do more with the absence of Molina.
“Most of the guys on this team have been around long enough to know, you just go play your game,” said Mike Matheny. “If you try to do more than what your capable of doing, it’s going to be counterproductive. I don’t think that’s an issue.”
The manager also explained that Francisco Pena made the start in Sunday’s game, not so much because of the travel for Kelly to arrive in St. Louis but rather he had been in all the preparation meetings for the Chicago series and already watched how the pitching staff had successfully attacked the Cubs hitters.
In the starting lineup tonight, Kelly is expected to see the bulk of playing time behind the plate.
“I would imagine we’ll take this opportunity and have Carson catch,” said John Mozeliak, President of Baseball Operations. “Certainly when you think back to why we sent him down, we want him to play everyday. But we will see Pena in games.”
This season at Memphis, Kelly has hit .234 (18-for-77) with 2 HR and 11 RBI in 21 games.
“Numbers don’t say everything down there,” said Kelly. “We’ve got some guys who’ve been hitting some balls hard down there and have nothing to show for it. We have a good team down there and it’s fun to be a part of and now I’m excited to be up here.”
And now with 44 big league games under his belt over the last two seasons and the work with the pitching staff in Spring Training, the recall is more comfortable for Kelly.
“A lot more comfortable,” he agreed. “Just to see all the familiar faces and understand this is the real deal,” said Kelly. “It’s exciting, a lot to process so far in this last 24 hours. But it’s exciting and I’m ready to contribute any way I can.”
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports, Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com