DL’d R. Johnson progressing slowly; Molina reclaims batting lead

Braves outfielder Reed Johnson has been on the disabled list since July 29.

Credit: Anthony Gruppuso

Credit: Anthony Gruppuso

Braves outfielder Reed Johnson has been on the disabled list since July 29.

ST. LOUIS — The injury-plagued Braves could sure use veteran outfielder Reed Johnson right about now, but it's taking longer than they expected for his Achilles' tendinitis to subside. On the DL since July 29, Johnson has continued throwing and hitting but only began light jogging three days ago.

“It feels OK,” he said. “I still feel it back there, but the good thing is I’m coming to the field the next day and it doesn’t feel worse. If I tried to pick up the pace and I went backwards as far as how I’m feeling, that’s not a good thing and I’d have to back down. I’m not having any of those, so that’s a good thing.”

Johnson said he didn’t know how long it might be before he’s ready to play because he’d not previously dealt with an Achilles’ injury severe enough to keep him out of more than a game or two. He hopes to be back at least for the postseason.

“Traditionally, Achilles stuff takes a while, just because it’s a tendon and it takes a while to heal,” he said. “But there’s really no risk, for me. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to, I think, at least try to be back at some point this year.

“Obviously you want to get some at-bats going into (the postseason). You don’t want to just go in there without having any at-bats under your belt. So ideally, I’d like to get some playing time and do some things before postseason.”

Molina reclaims batting lead: Back from the DL and scorching, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was 13-for-26 with seven doubles and two homers in his past six games before Saturday to move ahead of Atlanta's Chris Johnson in the National League batting race.

Molina went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs in Friday’s 3-1 Cardinals win, raising his league-best average to .337, ahead of Johnson (.332). The Braves third baseman had three homers and 17 RBIs in his past 18 games before Saturday, but Johnson was 18-for-70 (.257) in that span, which dropped his average 15 points.

“It’s amazing how good (Molina) has made himself, how he’s evolved,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “In his first two years in the major leagues, as a hitter he was an out. Almost an automatic out. Now he’s put up some offensive numbers the past three years, and his body, he’s changed his body. He was a roly-poly guy (before).

“Good for him. I don’t know him, I’ve just watched him from across the way. But he’s done a really, really good job as a major league player, getting better and better. He’s got a chance to win the batting title and I could out-run him right now, when he’s beat up as a catcher. That’s hard to do.”