Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has a torn ligament in his right thumb and will miss 8-12 weeks following surgery, the team announced. Molina exited Wednesday's game with the injury after sliding into third base, though it was a foot-first slide.
Molina, 31, is one of the most durable catchers in baseball. He has started at least 128 games behind the plate every year from 2009-13, and his 1,083 games at catcher since 2006 are the most in baseball. A knee problem sent him to the disabled list last season for the first time since 2007.
In 83 games and 335 plate appearances this season, Molina is hitting .287/.341/.409 (109 OPS+) with 16 doubles and seven home runs. He hit .313/.361/.481 (130 OPS+) from 2011-13. The injury is a huge blow to the Cardinals, both offensively and defensively.
With Molina out, St. Louis figures to rely on the catching tandem of Tony Cruz and Audry Perez. Cruz has hit .233/.270/.323 (63 OPS+) as Molina's backup since 2012.
St. Louis has won three straight games and come into Thursday with a 50-42 record. They are two games back of the top spot in the NL Central and tied for the second wild-card spot.