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Cardinals spring training

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (center) talks with the catching corps during the first official workout day at Cardinals spring training on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

JUPITER, Fla. • Nine-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glover Yadier Molina did not catch any of the 16 Cardinals pitchers who threw bullpen sessions between rain drops Wednesday in the first official workout of batterymen at the club’s spring training camp here. But manager Mike Shildt knew this going into spring training as Molina recovers from offseason left knee surgery and isn't concerned.

Shildt, conducting his first spring training news conference on a windy, increasingly cooler day, said he was fine with the 36-year-old Molina taking part in and conducting various meetings of catchers and pitchers rather than going full-bore now with catching duties.

“Yadi’s going to be gaining his strength,” said Shildt. “He’s in a great spot. He’s not a guy that clearly we feel like we need to push. I wouldn’t see him catching bullpen (sessions) for a while.”

Molina, who appears more streamlined than even he was two years ago, had said earlier that he wasn’t intending to play in the exhibitions until about mid-March.

This then means that three non-roster catchers will get plenty of work in the exhibition season which will begin a week from Saturday.

Francisco Pena was the backup to Molina in 2018. Andrew Knizner had a big year at Class AA Springfield and Class AAA Memphis, hitting for a combined .313 average. And  Joe Hudson, a minor league free agent signee, batted  .311 at Class AAA Salt Lake, .346 in a brief time at Class AA Mobile in the Los Angeles Angels’ organization and was two for 12 with the Angels after he had started the year in the Cincinnati organization.

“I think (Molina not playing) will create opportunity for Knizner,” said Shildt. “Hudson’s in camp. And Frankie’s back, which will create an opportunity for him.

“We know what we can expect from Yadi and we know the time frame will be right for him to be ready for opening day (March 28). He’s able to do everything but, listen, it’s Day 1 of pitchers and catchers.”

The non-throwers _the pitchers who didn’t throw bullpen sessions _ didn’t go through a complete set of drills because of the soggy field conditions. “It didn’t make a whole lot of sense in covering first base,” said Shildt. “We will have plenty of time for that.”

Adam Wainwright, one of those non-throwers, said he enjoyed the brevity of the workout. “Beautiful,” said Wainwright. “That’s how that first day should be.

“Get all the (physical) tests taken care of. Go outside, get a little catch in, have some meetings and call it a day. Great.”

Wainwright, who missed much of the 2018 season with elbow problems, said, “I’ve had a healthy an off-season for the first time in three years. We’ll see what happens.”

Chris Carpenter, a special assistant, was on hand to view the pitchers, will spend a few more days here and will be back for another stint later in the spring. Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and Jim Edmonds will be in camp as instructors beginning Monday, with Edmonds, employed by the club now, likely to stay longer than Smith, who generally is here for about a week.

Shildt said some other special instructors may come in but wasn’t prepared to discuss who or how many or when.

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