'It's gonna be a special year': Molina battled COVID, pain and now nears 2,000 career hits

By NewsRadio 1120 KMOX

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - After multiple knocks to his left wrist before Sunday, it was a game-day decision if Yadier Molina would be in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup. That decision was left up to Molina and it wasn't a surprise he was starting. 

"My teammates count on me," Molina says. "I never try to do anything for them to doubt me. If I’m healthy enough to play, I’m going to be there. They need me, I need them. Right now, we’re fighting for the (playoff) spot, and we’ve got to go."

Molina hit a game-winning two-run home run in the 7th inning on Sunday to earn a fourth-straight victory for St. Louis – their highest winning streak this season. 

Say it with us:YADIYADIYADI pic.twitter.com/P3QKCnigQR

— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 20, 2020

After the game, his pitcher and manager explained how impressed they were:

"This guy is just different. Tough guy. He’s dealing with it," manager Mike Shildt says. "He stepped up, clearly banged up."

"That dude is unbelievable. Nobody really knows what kind of shape his body is in, except for him. And he continues to go out there every day and give everything he has. He’s just one of a kind. It’s not about the pain he’s in. It’s about what he can give. Yadi’s leading the way. That’s the way it’s kind of always been," pitcher Jack Flaherty said after his 11 strikeouts helped earn his fourth win of the season.

Molina has fought through a lot of things on and off the field, physically and emotionally this year. 

Yadier Molina & Jack Flaherty led the #STLCards to a 4th win in a row Sunday – that's a season high.Here's the game recap & more from Yadi who has been hit on the wrist 3 times in the past week, but continues to stay in the lineup: https://t.co/0mw1oNwWGm#KMOXRewind pic.twitter.com/CdFYoLCDpU

— KMOXSports (@KMOXSports) September 21, 2020

He's in the final year of his current contract and there's obviously a lot on his mind about his future. During the COVID-19 break, a report came out that for the first time he's considered free agency and not remaining a Cardinal for his career – he's since stated that he'd prefer to only play for St. Louis. 

He was diagnosed with coronavirus and although specific details of his symptoms haven't been details, it at the very least kept him away from baseball activities for weeks, but he's still as clutch a hitter as ever this season. Case and point, Sunday's home run. 

And he's feeling a full-seasons worth of fatigue, even though it's a shortened schedule.

"For me, it feels like 180," Molina says. "The way my body feels. But you want to go day-by-day and stay as strong as you can. You don't think about it and just try to win the game that day."

In a just few days, Molina is likely to reach 2,000 hits in his career. He has 1,994 going into Monday night's game against the Kansas City Royals. 

He believes this will be a special year for him and his teammates. 

"We are always going to remember this year, hopefully, we can win it all and be the COVID-World Series champ," Molina says. "It's gonna be special with all the grinding and stuff we went through, then to still be in this position, obviously it's going to be special." 

If the season ended today, St. Louis would be in the postseason with the No. 2 spot in the NL Central. The Cardinals hold a full game lead over the Reds and Brewers with eight games left – maybe 10 if a doubleheader against Detroit it needed.

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