PITTSBURGH • Upon further review, injured Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina called Josh Harrison's elbow-first contact with Molina's upper body and head on Tuesday night a "clean play."
Molina sat out Wednesday's series finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates, saying his headache and shoulder pain were gone but that his neck was still a little stiff. He estimated that he might be able to play either tonight in Washington or on Friday.
Manager Mike Matheny said Molina even had texted him during the day hoping to worm his way into the lineup on Wednesday.
Though calling Molina's improvement "very good news," Matheny erred on the side of caution.
"That was a very violent hit," said Matheny, who should know inasmuch as he estimated he had at least 25 to 30 concussions when he caught and spent considerable time here being examined by Dr. Mickey Collins at the University of Pittsburgh concussion center.
"But we had a good conversation when (Molina) got here," said Matheny. "The fortunate thing he's measuring out very well on the concussion tests. Fortunately, the testing has dramatically improved. He's passed them all with flying colors and even last night he was passing them."
Matheny said that when he saw the hit, he immediately thought concussion. "I'm kind of wired that way," he said.
"But I was concerned about all of it. He was talking about his neck and he was sitting there not making a lot of sense.
"He's mad. I've been there. I get it. You do your job," said Matheny.
"You've really won the fight by the fact that you had the ball when it was over. But you're still not happy about it.
"You're sore. None of those things go together real well."
But Matheny said he could understand Molina's burning desire to play.
"Part of it is that if I'm in there the next day, I've showed them that I've won,'' said Matheny, echoing what he presumed to be Molina's midset.
"When I was the catching instructor in this organization and being a former catcher, I know the value of that play.
What it does obviously is that it's saving a run. But it goes deeper than that.
"As a manager, I'd like to take those thoughts and flush them. As I watch our catcher — and what a valuable piece he is to us — get 'trucked' like that, it's hard to watch."
But Molina, after having watched the television replays, kept repeating the phrase, "Clean play. Clean play.
"That's part of baseball. He did what he had to do and I did what I had to do. It (stinks) because you don't want anybody to get hurt. This time, it was me to get hurt," said Molina.
"I was having headaches, for sure, all of yesterday. But everything is fine. There's no concussion," he said.
"It's not too bad. That's why I'm saying, 'I'm OK.'''
CARPENTER BOUNCES BACK
After throwing his first bullpen session in more than a month on Tuesday, righthander Chris Carpenter, recovering from thoracic outlet surgery to help his right shoulder, said how he felt the next day would provide a good barometer.
Carpenter played catch on Wednesday and, contrary to other times during the season, when he had felt good one day and not the next, he said there was no problem this time.
"Towards the end there (before surgery in July), I would have to take a few days before I would feel any better," said Carpenter. "I had good work yesterday and I feel good today, which is a good thing."
After Tuesday night's drama in an otherwise dreary 9-0 loss to the Pirates, Matheny thought it wise to call a team meeting before Wednesday's game. While not offering up specifics, Matheny said, "It just applies to everything. Last night probably would have been a time to have a conversation. But, I'm smart enough to know that when your emotions are flying high, you usually end up giving great speeches that you regret. Today was a great day just to slow down and talk."