Yadier Molina ready to come off DL

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina expects to be in the lineup Thursday, the first day he's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list from a right knee strain. He wants to play every day again, too.

Molina worked out on the field for the third straight day before Wednesday night's game against the Pirates and said everything felt good. He said now is no time to rest.

"You have to give it your all every time because it's only a month and a half left," Molina said. "Every time you get a day off it's beautiful for your body but right now my team needs me and I'll be ready to go."

Manager Mike Matheny, a former four-time Gold Glove catcher, said the team has a plan for keeping Molina in the lineup the rest of the way but said they'd have to adjust on the fly. He minimized the chance of Molina getting semi-rest days and playing first base where young slugger Matt Adams would be getting the spot starts.

"We're going to be careful," Matheny said. "You just have to try to do the right thing."

Molina has been dealing with knee woes for a couple months while playing almost every day, totaling 361 at-bats to 116 for backups Tony Cruz and Rob Johnson combined. The Cardinals had been 6-7 without the player who led National League vote-getters for the All-Star Game, and trailed Pittsburgh by two games.

Molina was second in the NL with a .330 average, along with eight homers and 54 RBIs and Cruz was batting .219 with a homer and 11 RBIs.

Outfielder Matt Holliday was in the lineup after rolling his right ankle injury retreating to first base from a lead and going for X-rays. Matheny said Holliday was "scared more than anything else."

Matheny said reserve outfielder Shane Robinson also was ready to come off the DL on time Thursday from a shoulder strain.