Cardinals continue practice after missed day

Catcher Yadier Molina shares a laugh with Paul Goldschmidt (center) and Matt Wieters at summer camp on July 7. (Post-Dispatch photo by Christian Gooden)

HUMMEL ON EXPECTATIONS AT CATCHER:

This will be Yadier Molina’s 16th consecutive season as the Cardinals’ starting catcher. On the tail end of a three-year, $60 million deal, Molina will be playing at age 38. He has said he wants to play one, and possibly two more seasons with the club. The Cardinals probably would prefer that Molina not catch 55 games in the heat of the summer, but do you want to be the one to tell him he’s not playing on a particular day?

Whatever expectations the Cardinals have, Molina’s are even higher. Molina often seems to hit with more power in the second half of the season. For instance, even though he played 29 fewer games in the second half last year, Molina had more homers (6 to 4) than he had in the first half and his OPS was .802, compared to .654 in the first half. Some of that jump, though, had to do with his being healthier in August and September.

After years of catching runners at higher than a 40 percent clip, Molina has been under 40 percent for the past four seasons although only 30 runners tried to test him last year, with eight throw-outs for a 27 percent rating.

Though he turned 38 on July 13, there is no one like him, notably in his handling of a staff, for which there really isn’t a statistic.

Manager Mike Shildt last year said, “Processing information and being able to execute it and being able to change as the games goes on … this guy’s got a mental Rolodex that is second to none.” There is no reason that is likely to change, but Molina may have two backups this year if the Cardinals desire, because they can have 30 players at the start of the season or could take a catcher off the three-man taxi squad available to them. Veteran switch-hitter Matt Wieters, re-signed to a one-year $2 million deal plus incentives, will be in reserve, as probably will be Andrew Knizner, who was impressive when he was up in midseason although he did not hit for a high average.

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