Veteran catcher traded mid-season to make way for rookie phenom
meets former team in Fall Classic
Dylan Hernandez – Los Angeles Times
Courtesy of McClatchy New Services
When the booze and tears flowed Saturday night in the visitors’ locker room at Citizens Bank Park, someone was missing.
Someone the San Francisco Giants cited as a reason why they were celebrating their coronation as the champions of the National League. Someone they described as a mentor.
But not one player or coach lamented that Bengie Molina wasn’t there with them. There was no reason for anyone to feel guilty that they traded the veteran catcher in late June.
That’s because Molina is also headed to the World Series – as a member of the Texas Rangers.
So, win or lose, the 36-year-old Molina will get a second World Series ring. He won his first with the Angels in 2002.
“Everybody who played with Bengie is happy for him,” Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. “I’m really happy Bengie got a chance.”
Manager Bruce Bochy predicted the Giants and Molina would be reunited this way.
On the day the Rangers beat the New York Yankees to secure their passage to the World Series, Bochy sent Molina a text message that he said read, “See you soon.” At the time, the Giants were ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies, three games to two, in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series.
In turn, Molina sent text messages Saturday to some of his former teammates, wishing them luck before they faced the Phillies in Game 6.
In hindsight, Molina’s trade June 30 set both the Giants and Rangers on their way to the World Series.
The Giants were able to turn over the catching duties to rookie Buster Posey, who finished the regular season batting .305 with 18 home runs and 67 runs batted in over 105 games. Posey was the Giants’ cleanup hitter in the playoffs.
Molina hit what is arguably the most important home run in Rangers history.
With the Rangers trailing the Yankees by a run in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, Molina hit a two-out, three-run home run in the sixth inning. The Rangers went on to win the game and assume a commanding three games to one lead in the series.
Molina might be strapping on blue catcher’s gear these days, but his influence of the Giants remains.
“What a great character he was in the clubhouse,” Giants closer Brian Wilson said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. He helped me hone my skills.”
Molina signed a three-year, $16-million deal with the Giants after the 2006 season. He provided guidance to everyone from Tim Lincecum to Sergio Romo.
“No question, he helped,” Bochy said. “He caught these guys a couple of years. He deserves credit for developing this young staff.”
Speaking to MLB.com on Sunday, Molina sounded conflicted about facing his former team.
“I’m very happy, but it’s weird,” he said. “After playing 3 1/2 years there, to wear another color in that stadium will be weird. But I consider myself a professional. Now, I’m a Texas Ranger.
“I’m very excited. There are a lot of guys I love over there that I consider friends. There are very good people there who treated me well. The fans were amazing and the coaching staff … I know how hard they worked to get there.”
But now, it’s time for battle.
“I’m happy for him, but now I’m going to have to get him out,” Wilson said.
Said Affeldt: “I’m sure he’s not pulling for us, and I’m sure we’re not pulling for him.”