Yadier Molina catches bullpen session for first time since thumb surgery

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When Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb on July 11, it was estimated that he would miss 8-12 weeks. He already appears to be ahead of schedule.

Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com brings word that Molina has been cleared to begin some baseball activities. He started today by catching a bullpen session for the first time since surgery. While he still wore a soft cast on his throwing hand, he was also able to make some light tosses. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that Molina “is feeling like he wants to push it,” but he’ll have to grip a bat and hit without discomfort before being cleared for a minor league rehab assignment.

Molina, who will be five weeks removed from surgery tomorrow, was batting .287/.341/.409 with seven home runs and 30 RBI over 83 games prior to the injury.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.