WS 2010 Gm 1: Molina receives a warm reception

SAN FRANCISCO -- This isn't Bengie Molina's first return visit to San Francisco since he left the organization in a 2010 midseason trade. But, he said Saturday, it has certainly been the most moving.

Molina recalled being greeted warmly at AT&T Park in 2010 when, as a member of the Rangers, he faced his former teammates in the World Series. The ovation he received Friday, though, was stirring and sustained, with many in the sellout crowd standing to recognize Molina, who hit .276 in parts of four years with the Giants from 2007-10.

"I was deeply touched," said Molina, now the Cardinals' assistant hitting coach. "You don't see that everywhere, and it was very special. When you're out of the game for a while, you don't always know if people remember you. It was a little bit surprising, but they supported me so much when I was here.

"I had hoped that I made an impact on the field and with everyone that I met at the ballpark during my time in San Francisco. It was a wonderful time for me."

Because Molina split the 2010 season between San Francisco and Texas, he received a World Series ring when the Giants defeated the Rangers that fall. His playing career ended there, with Molina stepping away for two seasons before landing a position on the Cardinals' coaching staff this winter.

"He's been a great asset for us so far," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's really worked hard and has done a terrific job communicating to the guys, which I think we knew he would do. He's got a great mind for the game of baseball and I think he's going to be around as long as he wants to be around."

Freese feels good after first rehab game

Freese to DL, targets return for Cards' home opener

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after taking four at-bats and playing seven innings at third base, David Freese informed the Cardinals that his back responded well to his first on-field test since March 22.

In response, the Cardinals plan to play Freese as the designated hitter in Saturday's Triple-A game. Manager Mike Matheny said that Freese was also expected to do some extra running before Saturday's game to put his back through that additional test.

If all that goes well, Freese will play a full game with Memphis on Sunday. This would be a first in 2013 for Freese, who was not able to play nine innings in a game all spring after injuring his back March 4.

Saturday's positive reports, coupled with the Cardinals' weekend plans for Freese, suggest that the third baseman will be able to come off the disabled list, as hoped, for Monday's home opener. Asked about that probability, Matheny said, "We'll see how things go."

Y. Molina applauds Posey for winning MVP

STL@ARI: Molina's two-run single increases early lead

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants held an on-field ceremony prior to Saturday's game to present catcher Buster Posey with the National League's Most Valuable Player Award. Catcher Yadier Molina was not among the more than a dozen Cardinals player to line the dugout railing and watch the ceremony, but he did go out of his way to congratulate Posey.

Molina and Posey -- arguably the game's two best catchers -- shared some words as Posey came to bat in the first inning of Friday's game. It was Molina, who finished fourth in the MVP voting, who sought out the moment.

"I congratulated him for the World Series, the MVP, the contract," said Molina, who was occupied warming up Shelby Miller during Saturday's ceremony. "He deserved it. He's a warrior. I applaud him."

A year after Molina signed a five-year, $75 million contract extension, Posey inked his own, one that will pay him $167 million over the next nine years.

Worth noting

• Closer Jason Motte (right elbow strain) has not resumed throwing, nor does he have an anticipated date of return. However, Matheny said there has been a benefit to having Motte accompany the team on this road trip.

"He's one of our leaders and I think he really took that step last year and became a little more vocal," Matheny said. "You see him spending more time talking with the other guys. He brought value to the meetings. In talking with [head athletic trainer] Greg [Hauck] and the medical staff, they believed he could get just as much done here as he could if we left him back. It made sense."

Motte is scheduled to have his elbow re-examined when the team returns to St. Louis next week.

• Five pitchers on the Double-A Springfield roster combined to one-hit Corpus Christi in a 2-0 win Friday. Corpus Christi's only hit came off starter Scott McGregor, who allowed a leadoff single at the start of his 5 2/3-inning outing. Justin Wright, Deryk Hooker, Michael Blazek and Keith Butler followed McGregor in relief.

• Standout pitching prospect Michael Wacha, ranked No. 6 in the organization by MLB.com, is scheduled to make his Triple-A debut Sunday in Memphis. Wacha earned the assignment to start the season with Memphis after logging only 21 professional innings last year. He did not allow an earned run in Spring Training, which he split between Major and Minor League camp.

• The Reds have set up their rotation for next week's series in St. Louis. Mat Latos will face Jaime Garcia on Monday. Bronson Arroyo will start for Cincinnati on Tuesday and Homer Bailey will pitch the series finale.