The Cardinals' field general could find his way onto the field this week for the first time this spring.
Yadier Molina, who is recovering from December surgery on his left thumb, could see game action as early as this week, according to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Molina has been catching in camp but has yet to swing a bat.
That may change soon as he continues to progress, though, Matheny said Sunday.
“You’ll see him grabbing a bat this week,” Matheny said. “This week, if everything continues to progress and he continues to take positive steps, we could potentially get him in [a game] just to catch.”
It would be a good step toward being ready for Opening Day after a tumultuous winter. Molina underwent his first thumb surgery in October but it didn't take, necessitating the December follow-up procedure.
The 33-year-old is not only hoping to be on the field for the start of the season, but he's looking to bounce back after a 2015 season that was among the worst of his career. Molina batted .270 but posted a .660 OPS with just four homers last year; the OPS was his lowest since 2006, and he'd never hit fewer than six home runs in a full season.
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Utley Has Suspension Dropped
The slide heard 'round the world last fall will have a decidedly less impactful repercussion this spring.
While the slide was deemed illegal at the time, resulting in the two-game suspension from the league, Torre said the rules didn't explicitly outlaw such a slide until recently.
"I think it would have been an issue," Torre said of the possibility of the suspension being overturned on appeal. "There wasn't anything clear-cut to say that play violated a rule."
Last month, MLB adopted a rule that slides on potential double plays "will require runners to make a bona fide attempt to reach and remain on the base," and that a runner will be prohibited "from changing his pathway to the base or utilizing a 'roll block' for the purpose of initiating contact with the fielder."
Utley, 37, signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Dodgers this winter and is expected to fill in at second and third base in a utility role.
Jackson Signs On With Sox
Austin Jackson has a new home, roughly 10 miles from his old one.
After spending the offseason looking for a team to call his own, Jackson signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the White Sox on Sunday. Jackson most recently played for the Sox' cross-town rivals, the Cubs.
His arrival will allow Adam Eaton a break in center field, but it will likely impact Avisail Garcia the most. Garcia arrived in Chicago with much anticipation after a 2013 trade, but he's batted just .263/.312/.389 as a member of the White Sox and now may find himself out of favor with the club.
"Avi Garcia is 24 years old and has a world of talent," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said after the Jackson signing. "We still believe he's going to be able to convert on that talent and we expect him to have opportunity to blossom into the player many feel he can become."
Flowery words, but the fact that Hahn felt the need to defend the outfielder says enough in itself. In Jackson, the Sox get a player who batted .267/.311/.385 with nine homers and 17 steals in 2015.
Jackson is a plus defender who reportedly turned down a slightly more lucrative one-year offer from the Angels last month before finding a situation in Chicago that suited him better. He'll report to White Sox camp Monday.
Quick Hits: Carlos Martinez (shoulder) is on track to make his Grapefruit League debut later this week. El Gallo will throw one more side session before being cleared for game action, with an eye on being ready for Opening Day ... Justin Turner (knee) got six at-bats in a minor league game on Saturday. Turner is easing back into action after microfracture surgery on his left knee this winter, but he's expected to be full-go by Opening Day ... Continuing to work his way back from 2014 Tommy John surgery, A.J. Griffin threw a scoreless inning of relief Sunday. It was his first action this spring after the Rangers signed him to a minor league contract this winter ... Chris Tillman (hip) is on track to make his Grapefruit League debut Thursday. Tillman was dealing with a core muscle injury earlier in camp, but the news was better than some feared and he should only be a bit behind his fell Orioles starters as camp progresses ... Rockies reliever Jairo Diaz was diagnosed with a torn UCL in his right elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old had been vying for a spot in the Rockies' bullpen before the injury ... Manny Banuelos (elbow) is shooting for April 12 to make his season debut. Banuelos is recovering from arthroscopic elbow surgery last September to remove bone spurs, setting him behind at the start of camp ... Jerad Eickhoff (thumb) is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut by the end of the week. Eickhoff threw live batting practice Sunday as he continues to rehab a non-displaced fracture of his right thumb ... Carlos Rodon tossed three shutout innings in his Cactus League debut Sunday. The young southpaw posted a shiny 1.81 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 49 strikeouts over his final 54 2/3 innings to close out the 2015 season.