MIAMI -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina wasn't in tonight's lineup anyway against the Florida Marlins because of a bruise on the underside of his right hand suffered when he tried to block a pitch on Wednesday in Milwaukee.
But not only will Molina not be starting tonight, he won't be playing for five games. Molina decided not to appeal a five-game suspension levied against him for what Major League Baseball, in a release, said were "inappropriate actions, which included making contact with umpire Rob Drake multiple times and spraying him with spittle twice" during an argument in the 10th inning of Tuesday night's game in Milwaukee.
Molina, who also was fined an unannounced amount, was ejected after arguing a called third strike against him. He continued to insist tonight that he had not intentionally spit on Drake but assumed responsibility for his actions.
The suspension, because it is being taken now and not appealed, will cover the Cardinals' four games here this weekend against the Marlins and the first game of a series at home against Milwaukee next Tuesday.
If Molina had appealed, the decision on that appeal, whatever it was, might have cost him all three games of the crucial Mlwaukee series.
On the other hand, if a game or so is rained out in this series, which is entirely possible because of the presence of tropical storm Emily, any missed games would not count toward the suspension. The suspension will be measured in games missed and not days missed.
Molina said, "I feel sorry for everything that happened. I take full responsibility for my actions. I just want to move on and try to put it in the past.
"It was one of those deals where, if you make a mistake, you have to be responsible. If they decide to give me those five games. . . whatever they decide to do, is good.
"I was looking it as, 'Take it right away, because later on, you want to be part of the (pennant) race.'"
Molina figured he would be out at least another day or two because of his sore hand but would be all right by Wednesday.
Manager Tony La Russa said he had suspected that Molina's sudden meltdown Tuesday had bothered him the next day and Molina still seems embarassed by his actions.
"I apologize to our fans and the St. Louis organization. That's not me. For me, I'm a good guy. I'm not like that," Molina said.
"I was caught up in the moment. That's what happens when you're in the race and you're trying to win."
The video evidence that there likely was some spittle exchanged no doubt cost Molina an extra game or two. But Molina said, "I would never do that to anybody -- to any man or any woman.
"I respect umpires. I respect everybody. I respect the players.
"Every time you yell or scream, something comes out of your mouth. But, on purpose, no."
Joe Garagiola Jr., senior vice president of standards and on-field operations for Major League Baseball, made the announcement of Molina's suspension.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, who met with Molina in a closed clubhouse this afternoon, said he had suggested that Molina take the suspension now.
Gerald Laird, who will catch Kyle Lohse tonight, and rookie Tony Cruz will share the catching duties until the return of Molina, a three-time Gold Glover and three-time All-Star who was hitting 293.
The Cardinals will operate with 24 players until Molina comes back.