ST. LOUIS – Anybody who saw it cringed immediately.
Those in the Cubs’ clubhouse who have experienced lesser versions of it immediately felt Yadier Molina’s pain.
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“It could have been me or another catcher,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said of the foul tip to the Cardinals catcher’s cup Saturday that caused enough damage to require emergency surgery that night.
Kris Bryant fouled a 102-mph pitch directly into Molina’s cup, at which point the ball hit the dirt and caromed back into him. The Cardinals described the damage as a “pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma,” or what’s believed to be a ruptured testicle.
“That’s the worst pain that a catcher can get,” Contreras said of the less-severe occasional shots to that area every catcher experiences. “I just feel for him. I feel sorry for him. He’s a great player. He’s the life and soul for that team.
“I hope we keep [him in] our prayers, and I wish him the best to be back on the field.”
Cubs backup catcher Victor Caratini, who knows Molina well from home in Puerto Rico, texted the veteran All-Star Saturday just before the surgery.
“I just hope he can recuperate quickly,” Caratini said through an interpreter.
Molina was said to be walking by Sunday afternoon. The division-leading Cardinals estimate he’ll be sidelined for a month.
“He’s their source,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s not easy to lose a guy like that. Everybody goes through it during the course of the season. …
“They’ll fight through it. Because they have the pitching that they can fight through it with, too.”
Notes: Maddon used his fifth leadoff man of the season when he batted Contreras there Sunday – in part as one of his favorite methods for jump-starting a struggling regular. He also said he wanted to get Ian Happ back in the outfield but isn’t ready to return his young Opening Day leadoff man back to the heady role. “Just didn’t want to lay that on him right now,” Maddon said. …Left fielder Kyle Schwarber said the reason he fell down on Matt Carpenter’s routine fly ball Saturday afternoon was because his cleat on one foot caught the leather top of the other as he turned – tearing the shoe and knocking him down. He still got up in time to make the catch. “That’s a first for me,” said Schwarber of the fall – then smiled when someone told him he at least kept his cool. “It might have looked like it.”