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Cardinals' Molina out 8-12 weeks with torn ligament

(Reuters) - St. Louis Cardinals All-Star catcher Yadier Molina will miss the next eight to 12 weeks after suffering a ligament tear in his right thumb, the Major League Baseball team said on Thursday.

Molina, who was slated to start at catcher for the National League in next week's All-Star Game, is scheduled to undergo surgery on Friday, just as the team was mounting a charge in the Central Division.

"Obviously, when you lose a player of his skill set and leadership, it's tough," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told reporters. "But the game doesn't stop and we'll keep going."

Molina injured his thumb in the second inning of Wednesday's 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates while grabbing third base after sliding in. He remained in the game to catch the next half inning before being replaced.

Molina was batting .287 with 16 doubles, seven homers and 30 runs batted in through 83 games. The six-time Gold Glove Award winner for defensive excellence also leads the majors with a caught-stealing percentage of 49 percent.

The Cardinals (50-42), winners of three in a row, entered Thursday's games trailing the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers by two games.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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