The St. Louis Cardinals have not yet reached expectations in the eyes of many people thus far in 2014. Even with that being the case, the Cardinals have a 71-59 record and sit just one game back of the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central.
Over the last few weeks they have maintained their winning ways without the help of their star catcher Yadier Molina, who also happens to have a case for being the most valuable player in the National League.
When Molina went down with a torn thumb ligament, the projected timetable was an 8-12 week recovery period. That meant that the Cardinals would be without Molina until at least September. Recently a report indicated that Molina would still probably not return until the final month of the season.
With continued progress in his rehab, however, Molina might have a chance to return sooner. If he does, it will add another wrinkle to an already fascinating playoff race in the National League. Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com writes the following:
While it would be seamless to activate Molina from the 15-day disabled list when rosters expand on Sept. 1, the Cardinals have not ruled out an earlier return if Molina passes all necessary medical checkpoints. At the time of his surgery, it was announced that Molina would need 8-to-12 weeks to return. It looks like he’ll do better than that timeline, as Friday will mark the end of his seventh week in recovery.
Molina, who was batting .287/.341/.409 and playing his usual outstanding defense when he hit the DL, would still have to go out on a minor league assignment, but if all went well he could return within the next week.
Not many players in Major League Baseball can change the complexion of a playoff race by themselves. Molina can, and that is what makes his progress so significant as he works his way back into action.