JUPITER, Fla. (AP) – Leaving the clubhouse after his first exhibition game this year, St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina got a fist bump from third baseman Matt Carpenter.
“It’s good to have you back,” said Carpenter, one All-Star to another.
Molina went 1 for 2 as a designated hitter Friday, the 36-year-old’s first game since left knee surgery in mid-December. Molina is likely to be behind the plate on Saturday, catching Adam Wainwright against Houston – about a week ahead of the original projection for him to catch.
“I can’t really tell you how happy I am just to be back with Waino,” Molina said.
A nine-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove, Molina singled through the left side off Washington newcomer Patrick Corbin and scored in a three-run Cardinals’ first.
“Just proves yet again he’s a special guy,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “Comes in, first at-bat, gets down 0-2 and battles, battles, battles. It’s impressive to see a guy that takes a pro at-bat like that – that can work on getting his timing as the at-bat goes.”
Molina then lined out to first.
“I was nervous about how I was going to feel but that’s a good nervous and everything feels fine, everything feels good with my body,” Molina said. “I’m happy to be back and part of the team again.”
Marcell Ozuna replaced Molina at designated hitter, striking out twice. Ozuna, hitless in 14 spring training at-bats, had right shoulder surgery on Oct. 30. He is slated to join outfielders in throwing drills on Saturday and could make his first outfield appearance on Monday in left.
“I think it’s going to help when he gets into games because that flow of play will get him in a little bit of rhythm,” Shildt said.
AROUND THE GRAPEFRUIT AND CACTUS LEAGUES
WHITE SOX 15, ANGELS 8
AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani played soft toss for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October. The Angels expect Ohtani to rejoin the team in May as a designated hitter. He won’t take the mound again for Los Angeles until 2020.
Mike Trout doubled and drove in a run with a groundout and Albert Pujols had an RBI single and is batting .500 for Los Angeles. Andrew Heaney made his second start, allowing a hit and walk while retiring two batters. Heaney, who is battling elbow inflammation, was on a 25-pitch limit.
Yonder Alonso hit his third spring home run for Chicago, singled twice and drove in three runs. Welington Castillo hit his first home run and his third double, driving in two and scoring twice.
MARLINS 10, METS 3
Neil Walker hit his first two home runs for Miami, a three-run shot off Noah Syndergaard and a solo drive off Seth Lugo.
Robinson Cano homered for the first time with New York and Jeff McNeil homered for his first hit of spring training. Both came off Dan Straily, who pitched 3 1/3 innings in his third start.
Syndergaard allowed six hits and four runs, striking out eight. He didn’t walk anyone after issuing five in his last start. New closer Edwin Diaz gave up a hit in a scoreless inning.
BLUE JAYS (SS) 11, PIRATES (SS) 0
Toronto prospect Bo Bichette homered and had two singles, scoring twice and raising his average to .368. Anthony Alford hit two solo home runs and singled. Billy McKinney add Jonathan Davis added two-run homers for the Blue Jays’ split squad.
Pittsburgh starter Trevor Williams gave up five hits and two walks in three innings.
BLUE JAYS (SS) 5, PIRATES (SS) 2
Brandon Drury hit his second spring home run and Justin Smoak had two singles for Toronto’s split squad. Marcus Stroman made his third start, allowing one hit in four shutout innings, striking out three.
Pittsburgh starter Rookie Davis gave up four hits and four walks in two innings.
CARDINALS (SS) 3, NATIONALS 2
Matt Wieters singled twice and drove in a run for St. Louis. Michael Wacha made his third start, pitching four innings and yielding two runs and six hits.
Matt Adams hit his second home run for Washington. Closer Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one in his second appearance.
ORIOLES 4, RED SOX 2
Andrew Cashner made his second start for Baltimore, going 1 2/3 innings and allowing one run on a hit and two walks. Boston managed just Tzu-Wei Lin’s RBI double and a single by Eduardo Nunez.
TWINS 5, RAYS 5, 9 INNINGS
Minnesota prospect Alex Kirilloff hit a pair of singles. Jose Berrios made his third start, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings.
Willy Adames hit a two-run homer and Ji-Man Choi and Jake Smolinski both hit solo shots for Tampa Bay. Brandon Lowe had his fifth double, scoring a run and raising his average to .435.
BREWERS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 3
Travis Shaw hit two home runs for Milwaukee, Lorenzo Cain had two singles and an RBI and Christian Yelich doubled and scored.
Zack Godley’s ERA rose to 7.36 in his third start, pitching four innings and allowing three runs and five hits. Closer Archie Bradley followed Godley, allowing a run on three hits while striking out three.
ROYALS (SS) 8, REDS 3
Billy Hamilton hit his third double this spring and singled, scoring two runs and driving in another for Kansas City’s split squad. Alex Gordon had an RBI double. Ian Kennedy made his second start, pitching four innings and giving up three runs and five hits while striking out five.
Eugenio Suarez had a double and single for Cincinnati. Jose Peraza hit his first home run.
ATHLETICS 6, PADRES 5
Marco Estrada struggled in his second start for Oakland, pitching three innings and allowing three runs on three hits, two walks. Chad Pinder had two doubles and an RBI for the A’s.
Hunter Renfroe had a double and single, driving in three runs for San Diego.
ROCKIES 11, RANGERS 10
Pat Valaika hit his fourth home run and Ryan McMahon connected for Colorado. Daniel Murphy had an RBI double and Nolan Arenado added a run-scoring single for just his third hit this spring. Arenado is batting .143.
Rockies prospect Colton Welker won the game with a two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth.
Elvis Andrus hit a grand slam for his first home run and singled for Texas. Joey Gallo doubled and singled. Lance Lynn allowed just one hit, striking out four in four innings in his second start.
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