St. Louis could host first All-Star Molina
In wake of dad's death, two of three brothers could make team
ST. LOUIS -- Yadier, Bengie and Jose Molina have three World Series rings and three Gold Gloves between them. What they don't have, anywhere in their catching family, is even one All-Star appearance.
But Yadier, the youngest, is in excellent position to change that this Sunday when rosters are announced for the 2009 All-Star Game. The Cardinals catcher leads fan voting, and thus could be not only on the roster, but in the starting lineup.
Bengie of the Giants, the eldest, is a longer shot, but has the power numbers that might land him on the roster via the player ballot or a manager's selection. Bengie, though, is mostly pulling for Yadier. This year's Midsummer Classic takes place at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, so not only would it be a first, it would be a home game for Yadier.
"I'm not an All-Star," Bengie said. "I think Yadier is. If I get selected to go, I'll be more than glad. It would be an honor, not only to us but to my dad. ... It will be a great thrill for [Yadier], to be home and be part of the All-Star Game."
Jose, the middle brother of the trio, won't be an All-Star because he is the backup to Jorge Posada in New York, and also because he has been on the disabled list since May 7 with a pulled left quadriceps muscle. He could be activated around the All-Star break.
It has not been the best year off the field for the three brothers. Their father, Benjamin, passed away last fall. Then they lost an aunt who was close to them just this month. The losses have been balanced somewhat, at least for Yadier, by the arrival of a baby boy last fall. But it's been a tumultuous year.
So it would mean the world to them to have a mini-reunion in two weeks in St. Louis.
"I hope so, man," Yadier said. "I hope so. It would be great if he could come here. We could spend two nights together in St. Louis, in the same dugout. Spend the time with him talking. We need it. We've been through a lot of bad things. We need to be together. If that's the case and he makes the All-Star Game and I make the All-Star Game, we're going to have fun."
The Catching Candidates
|Stats of selected candidates to catch for the National League in the All-Star Game|
|(Stats through Sunday)|
Yadier rarely strikes out and is at his best with runners in scoring position. His batting average is down somewhat from last year, but his on-base percentage is right about where it was. He's never come into the power that Bengie has, but he's a productive hitter for a catcher, and he takes pride in his offense. His defense has never been questioned -- some in the Cardinals organization thought he was Major League-ready as a catcher long before he graduated from the Minors.
"Early on, since Little League, he had a lot of power," Bengie said. "Later on, he became a great catcher with great hands, quickness and a strong arm. More than anything, [I tried to help him] with his mental approach. My dad took care of him and he took care of himself, practicing the game. ... Mostly the toughess, the thinking, the strength, the dedication -- all that I had, I wanted to pass on to him. I wanted to make sure he followed the right track."
For Bengie, it's been a difficult year on the field as well. He's carrying his lowest batting average since 2002 and the lowest on-base percentage of any full season in his career. He's hit 10 home runs and driven in 42 runs, but he's been slumping since an outstanding April. Nonetheless, in an uncertain year for catchers, he at least has a chance. Russell Martin is having a down year and Ryan Doumit is hurt. Bengie leads National League catchers in RBIs by a huge margin and is tied for the lead in home runs.
Bengie is a two-time Gold Glove winner who has four consecutive seasons of at least 15 home runs. He's never gotten on base much, but his power and defense make him a valuable player. Not to mention his qualities as a teammate.
"I learned a lot from them," Yadier said of his two brothers. "They work hard. They're here because they work. So I learned that from them. They're good players, and it's because of that. They worked so hard to get here and stay here. I learned that from them."
If they can both make the club, the timing would be simultaneously powerful and heartbreaking. Benjamin Molina was a huge factor in shaping the Molina brothers, and for one or two of his boys to make the All-Star team would be a potent tribute to his influence and his legacy. But for him not to be able to see it just seems unfair.
"My dad helped us in many ways," Bengie said. "He was the one who introduced us to the game. He was the one who taught us how to play and how play the game correctly and respect the game and respect others in the game. Not only that, just being a dad and being there for us. He taught us a real big lesson when he woke up at 4:30 every morning and went to work the whole day standing up, until he came back home at 4:30 and went to the field after that -- without hesitating, without arguing, without a doubt. That's how he showed us how to respect the game and respect others."