MILWAUKEE • All-Star catcher Yadier Molina made his fifth consecutive start and sixth out of seven Wednesday since recovering from a right knee sprain and exiting the disabled list.
That didn’t seem to be quite the plan when Molina came back, when it was thought he might play two or three in a row and then rest.
But Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said, “He played one (game) and was off. This conversation is going to be very similar from here on out. He’s going to get a day off when he needs a day off.
“These are grown men. They know what they need. We’re all pulling in the same direction, trying to achieve the same common goal. They don’t want to be injured. We don’t want them injured.
“But the guys who have been doing this for a long time are going to be the best source of information that we have. We’re getting clearance from our medical people that he’s responding very well. And he’s telling us that he feels good.
“So that’s what we’re going to have to go with. And we’re going to trust that. It might not look like how everybody wants it to look, but that’s not our concern. ... It’s got to be what’s best for our player and what’s best for our team.”
Nearly everyone had pretty much agreed that Molina had come back too soon when his right knee bothered him in July.
On that occasion, Molina had sat out only a couple of days before returning. He played the first 10 games after the All-Star break, took one off and was disabled after he came out early in the July 31 game at Pittsburgh.
“We’ve got to trust guys,” said Matheny. “They’re capable of helping make that decision. We as a staff need to step in and say what we see. We have very talented medical people who give us backing and suggestions. We take all that information in. But the player also has a say as to what goes on.”
Molina, for his part, said, “I feel good.”
Veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran also played a day game after a night game and hit a two-run homer.
“We’re in a fight. We’re in a push,” said Matheny. “He’s going to let us know if something physically isn’t going to allow him to be out there.
“We’re not saving now. This is the time to put it all together.”
Meanwhile, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said Molina would be his National League Most Valuable Player choice.
“Why?” said Molina. “I went 0 for four.”
Molina, who had been 10 for his previous 18 before that, then was reminded that Roenicke had made that pronouncement before the game.
Beltran said, “I think he’s there, no doubt.
“There some other guys who are having good years, like (Arizona’s) Paul Goldschmidt. It’s really those two. It will be between him and Goldschmidt.”
Matheny had sported a beard for a day or so, heeding the requests of his players to keep it until they lost, knowing full well that his wife, Kristin, was going to make him shave it anyway when he got home Wednesday night. He was clean shaven before Wednesday’s game, with the Cardinals having lost Tuesday. “I’d like to have won 20 games and had a ZZ Top going,” cracked Matheny. ... Outfielder Shane Robinson had three hits in his first start back. “Great day,” said Matheny. “We don’t give him many opportunities and for him to be that sharp ... even the one out he made was a laser.” Robinson is hitting .276 in part-time duty.