Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, his left hand recently freed from a cast, has a good feel for what it will take this spring to rebuild the strength in his hand and, over time, regain the force in his swing.

He’s done it once before, just a year ago.

For the second time in as many spring trainings, the Cardinals’ Gold Glove Award-winning catcher will be recovering from hand surgery, this time to the thumb on his catching hand.

When Cardinals pitchers and catchers open official workouts Thursday, Molina will not be wearing his mask, and he said Monday that he could be two or three weeks away from catching.

His progress this spring will be delayed, but his goal — one shared by the organization — is to be ready for opening day, April 3.

“That’s what I want,” Molina said after completing his workout Monday at the team’s Roger Dean Stadium complex. “I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m looking for opening day. Right now, I’m trying to concentrate on getting the strength back in my hand. My whole body feels good. I’m just trying to concentrate on my hand.”

Molina, 33, suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb while making a tag at home plate Sept. 20. He returned for the playoffs but admitted later that the thumb produced “a lot of pain,” and his grip strength was compromised.

Molina had surgery immediately after the end of the season, and then in December had a second operation on the thumb. After the first one, the pain did not relent and the thumb felt stiff, he said.

The second operation meant immobilizing the hand in a cast that was removed a week and a half ago and replaced by a splint he’ll wear for two weeks.

He said the thumb now feels “way better” than after the first procedure.

“Hopefully, this time we get it right,’’ he said. “I don’t know what happened the first time. The second one definitely feels good.”

Molina’s winter workouts have been limited by the cast, but he was able to run and did so to improve his lower-body strength. He gained about 10 pounds in the offseason, he said, but still reports to camp slimmer than several years ago.

Manager Mike Matheny commented how Molina “looks strong” while maintaining the weight he worked hard to reach a year ago.

Molina missed time during the 2014 season recovering from a tear in his right hand that required surgery, an injury that he agreed was “similar, very similar” to this one. He devoted that offseason to conditioning, shedding weight to improve his durability.