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'We're gonna treat every game like a playoff': Yadier Molina talks about returning to Cardinals for stretch run

Yadier Molina is back in the Cardinals' lineup after rehabbing in Puerto Rico. He talked about his health, basketball team ownership and return on Tuesday.

ST. LOUIS — On Monday, for the first time since June 15, Yadier Molina saw his name in the Cardinals' starting lineup.

The future Hall of Famer had missed the last month and a half with knee inflammation and had been rehabbing in his native Puerto Rico.

But now, Molina is back and ready for the stretch run.

"It was a tough month for me. I was with my family down in Puerto Rico so that helped. But to be away from the field was tough. I'm back so I'm happy for that," Molina said.

Molina said the rehab he did in Puerto Rico was the same as it would have been back with the Cardinals, except for one key thing.

"The only thing different is that I was with my family. That's a big part for me," Molina said.

Molina has said 2022 will be his final year in the majors, and said there were times where he was worried his season might be over prematurely.

"Obviously when you're 40 and you're a catcher for 19 years you've got worries. But right now I did whatever I can to be back. I'm healthy right now," Molina said.

While he may have been away from the team physically, Molina said he was never too far away from his teammates, especially his long-time "brother" Albert Pujols.

"We talked almost every day. Obviously he's my brother. Same with a couple guys who are here where we talked almost every day. We stay in touch. Honestly I went to Puerto Rico but never put the team behind. I was paying attention to what's going on here," Molina said.

While down in Puerto Rico, Molina did make some headlines for his basketball ownership. Molina owns a professional hoops team in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and has embraced that endeavor as well.

"Basketball is going good. We're going to the finals. We start the series next month so we'll see how it goes," Molina said.

When it comes to getting involved in strategizing with the coaches and players, Molina likes to stay hands-off as an owner. Or at least he tries to.

"I stay out of it... I try to stay out of it," Molina laughed.

And when it comes to interacting with the referees, Molina had nothing but praise on Monday. 

"Oh the referees... They're good over there. Really good," Molina laughed.

While on rehab in Puerto Rico Molina was ejected from one of his team's games for arguing a call and kicking a basketball.

But now, the only thing that matters for Molina is helping his team to the playoffs. And that's the mode he's going to be in from the moment he steps back on the field.

"This is the playoffs for us. We know what type of situation we're in right now. We're gonna treat every game like a playoff," Molina said.

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