Yadier Molina hit off a tee for the first time since thumb surgery

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Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina took a big step today in his recovery from a pair of thumb surgeries, hitting off a tee for the first time.

Molina told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch afterward that things went well enough that he plans to hit live pitching in a batting cage and possibly even catch in a game within the next week.

Molina initially had surgery in November to repair a torn thumb ligament, but then needed a follow-up surgery two months later. His uncertain status played a big part in the Cardinals signing backup catcher Brayan Pena to a two-year, $5 million deal after years of barely using backup Tony Cruz to give Molina time off.

Opening Day remains the goal for Molina, but it’s possible the 33-year-old seven-time All-Star will begin the season on the disabled list even if there isn’t a significant setback in the recovery process.

Nationals’ Strasburg ejected for arguing from the stands

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — A pitcher getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes – on his day off? And, from the stands?

Nationals star Stephen Strasburg earned one of baseball’s most unique ejections – probably ever – in the third inning of Washington’s game against the New York Mets on Thursday.

Strasburg was sitting in Section 121 at Citi Field in this socially distant season because he’s scheduled to start Friday against Baltimore Orioles. He was apparently unhappy with the strike zone of plate umpire Carlos Torres after Austin Voth‘s 2-2 pitch to Pete Alonso on the outside corner was ruled a ball.

Moments later, Torres ejected last year’s World Series MVP, though it took a few seconds to realize who had been tossed.

Someone was heard yelling: “You’re (expletive) brutal” shortly before television cameras captured Strasburg doffing his cap as he walked up the staircase on his way out of the park.

“Sorry, folks – sorry, FCC,” Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen said on SNY.

The usually stoic Strasburg appeared to be grinning underneath his blue mask as he made his exit.