The Cardinals came into the 2023 season with a new catcher for the first time in nearly two decades, as Yadier Molina retired last season after 19 years with the ballclub. The replacement came in the form of Willson Contreras, a free agent signee who spent the first seven years of his career with the rival Cubs.
Almost immediately, Contreras caught a rude welcome to St. Louis, leaving Thursday's opener against the Blue Jays during the eighth inning with right knee contusion, according to the team.
Contreras tried to stay in the game after his injury, but just couldn't go and had to be replaced by Andrew Knizner behind the plate. Fortunately, Cardinals manager Oli Marmol said after the game that X-rays came back negative on Contreras' knee.
"It was hurting him pretty good. It squared him up in the knee, and he was having a hard time kind of putting any weight on it, let alone trying to bend it," Marmol told MLB.com. "So, we'll check it out and we'll see what we have going on."
Friday, word from the Cardinals -- via St. Louis Post-Dispatch -- is that Contreras is listed as day to day, so it appears Contreras avoided serious injury.
The injury occurred when Contreras was catching fireballer Jordan Hicks and an errant fastball nailed Contreras right on the right knee. He was wearing his catcher's gear, of course, so there was a bit of reprieve thanks to the shin guard that comes up over the knee. Still, it was a 102.7 mph heater that struck the knee. It was such a badly missed spot at such a high velocity that it almost looked like it was a cross up.
Contreras was in the midst of a productive game, too, as he was 2 for 4 with two runs scored.
The Cardinals had a 7-6 lead when Contreras departed the game, but the two runners on base advanced to second and third on the play and then ended up scoring on a Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. single, giving the Blue Jays an 8-7 lead. The Cardinals then took a 9-8 lead in the bottom of the eighth but the Blue Jays scored two more in the top of the ninth and ended up winning a wild game, 10-9.