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Cardinals’ Willson Contreras to return to catching duties on Monday

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BOSTON — Willson Contreras’ demotion from catching didn’t last very long.

St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said before Saturday’s game against Boston that the 31-year-old Contreras will be back behind the plate on Monday night when the Cardinals open a homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“We felt really good about the progress that we’ve made and it lines up really well for him to catch Monday,” Marmol said.

Looking to replace Yadier Molina at catcher, St. Louis signed the three-time All-Star to an $87.5 million, five-year contract in December, its biggest move of the offseason.

“We talked about it last night and I told him that I’m ready to catch,” Contreras said after Saturday’s 4-3 comeback victory over the Red Sox.

“I’m not going to be just a DH because it’s really hard just to be a DH when I can be behind the plate,” he said. “I was just ready to catch.”

Contreras said Marmol came to him and asked if he was ready.

“I don’t know if I was acting different, he read something in my body and went right to the point and said: ‘Are you ready to catch?’ and I said yes,” Contreras said.

But Marmol announced last weekend that Contreras would be taking a break from catching for a while - a move that raised questions about the fit of the free agent acquisition in the first place.

The departure of Molina, a nine-time Gold Glove winner who retired after his 19th season with the Cardinals, looms over the team’s losing record.

Contreras will be catching right-hander Jack Flaherty on Monday. The last time he started behind the plate was on May 4 for Flaherty, who was tagged for 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings. Contreras came in as a defensive replacement the next day.

“This is what they wanted,” Marmol said.

Now, they’ll be together again - and Contreras will have a chance to fulfill what St. Louis envisioned during the offseason.

Contreras has been the designated hitter during his time away from behind the plate. He is batting .263 with three homers and 18 RBIs entering the middle game of the three-game series in Boston.