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Cardinals close out Angels series

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina delivers a hit during the June 23 game against the Los Angeles Angels. (Post-Dispatch photo by Colter Peterson)

The Cardinals got one player back from the 10-day injured list Thursday when they activated third baseman Matt Carpenter (lower back strain). But another player headed for the IL when catcher Yadier Molina, who never has shaken a right thumb strain, was moved to the 10-day IL.

That IL assignment was backdated three days to Monday but manager Mike Shildt, while not offering a precise timetable, said, Thursday night, “You’re looking beyond the 10 days.

“(The injury) is similar to what he had. It hasn’t increased or decreased or worsened. . . or is more problematic. It just hasn’t healed as well, so he’s kind back to where he was.

“He just needs time. What that time looks like. . . you’re probably looking in a three-week range.”

Andrew Knizner, who was to have played in the Class AAA All-Star Game on Wednesday night, instead prepared to join the team as Matt Wieters’ backup when the Cardinals resume play Friday night against Arizona. Carson Kelly, previously the Cardinals’ backup catcher, is Arizona’s top receiver now.

Molina had missed 12 games the first time he went on the IL and has knocked in only three runs since his return, without hitting a homer, compromised at bat but not in the field.

“A certain contact in a part of the bat, or a certain swing just flares it up or upsets it,” said Shildt. “Clearly, it doesn’t affect his catching and throwing, because he did that really well.

“But he’s going to need more time to heal so he can become more offensively competent consistently _ to his capabilities. “

Also, the Cardinals purchased the contract of lefthanded reliever Chasen Shreve from Memphis and optioned lefthander Tyler Webb to Memphis.  Shreve, acquired with righthander Giovanny Gallegos from the New York Yankees last year for first baseman Luke Voit, had been outrighted to Memphis this spring after a poor camp. .

Shreve takes the 40-man roster spot of reliever Jordan Hicks (elbow surgery), who was moved to the 60 day IL from the 10-day IL.

Additionally, first baseman Rangel Ravelo was optioned to Memphis.

Shreve, who turns 29 Friday, was 2-1 with a 3.80 earned run average in 37 games, covering 42 2/3 innings for Memphis this season, striking out 50 and walking just 19. Since June 1, he had posted a 1.72 ERA with 21 strikeouts and just three walks in 15 games.

Besides Molina, left fielder Marcell Ozuna, the club leader in home runs (20) and RBIs (62) remains on the IL with finger fractures in his right hand. Shildt said Ozuna was “better.

“We’re encouraged by his work and encouraged by his strength. He’s still got some inflammation that needs to be cleared up a little," Shildt said. 

“And he’s improving where his baseline of his grip was. He’s optimistic how he’s feeling. The staff’s optimistic how he’s feeling.”

John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations for the club, said he hoped both Molina and Ozuna would be back before the end of the month, 20 days away.

For much of the season, Webb had held lefthanded batters under .200 but, in his last outing, Saturday in San Francisco, he allowed three consecutive hits to lefthanded batters, mixed with a two-run homer by switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval, whom Shildt didn’t mind hitting righthanded.

“That didn’t help, for sure,” said Shildt. “The homer to Sandoval was the big blow.”

The Giants had used a potential pinch hitter for Sandoval earlier in the game so Shildt was confident Sandoval “would take the at-bat. He took it. Be careful what you ask for,” said Shildt, with a half smile. 

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