Yadier Molina’s hitting has been an unexpected boost for Cardinals

Two months ago, the Cardinals had no idea they’d be getting all that. In fact, they had only a suspicion, not a certainty, that he would be their Opening Day catcher, much less an ironman who would be among their most consistent contact hitters.

Matheny said he thinks this is who Molina is as a hitter, while last season — in which Molina had his lowest OPS in nine seasons — was an aberration caused by weakness in his right thumb, which was injured in 2014. Molina had surgery on his left thumb twice last winter, the result of a September injury that he played through.

“It shows how much he was up against the wall last year, trying to make something work. Even though he’d been given the green light, he still didn’t have all the strength he wanted,” Matheny said. “When his body is right and he’s healthy, he has a great approach at the plate. He’s a very heady hitter.”

“He knows what he’s doing,” Leake said of Fryer. “It’s not like he’s a bad catcher. He thinks along, he’s got a grasp of pitching. It’s fun to have two catchers that are able to do that.”

Good luck trying to identify Virginia’s players at practice this spring. A numerical roster sheet won’t be of much help.

First-year Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall is going to great lengths to establish a culture change in Charlottesville, and one of the first steps of that overhaul means stripping players of their jersey numbers.

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson met last week with former Pacers coach Frank Vogel, league sources have confirmed to ESPN.

Vogel is the second coach known to meet face-to-face with Jackson. Jackson and general manager Steve Mills also met with former Cavaliers coach David Blatt last month.

In addition to Blatt and Vogel, the Knicks are also considering interim coach Kurt Rambis for their opening.

Bonus footnote: The Patriots wore white at home throughout the 1985 regular season, but then they were forced to wear red on the road in two of their three playoff games (because the Jets chose to wear white at home in the wild-card round and the Dolphins did likewise in the conference championship). They won both of those games, so they chose to stick with red — their usual road color at the time — in Super Bowl XX.

A few other uni-related notes regarding the big game, all regarding the quarterbacks’ uniform numbers:

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is poised to become the first quarterback to wear No. 1 in a Super Bowl. (Obviously, this also gives him the lowest uniform number ever worn by a Super Bowl quarterback.)