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.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.