Molina right into starting lineup for Rangers
Ex-Giant returns to AL West, team eager to have him
ARLINGTON — Bengie Molina was sleeping on the plane when he was woken by his San Francisco Giants teammates telling him goodbye.
“It was kind of weird,” Molina said. “Everything was saying how great a teammate I was. I was like ‘Wow! I got released.’”
When the 35-year-ol d catcher got off the plane and read the text from his wife that “we’re off to Texas,” he finally realized what was really happening. He had been traded to the Rangers and was going back to the AL West, where he went to the playoffs three times and won a World Series championship with the Los Angeles Angels.
Molina joined his new team Friday, when he was in the starting lineup and listed batting sixth for the AL Westleading Rangers’ scheduled opener of a weekend series against the Chicago White Sox.
Texas got Molina and cash from the Giants in a deal announced Thursday for reliever Chris Ray and minor league pitcher Michael Main, the Rangers’ first-round pick (24th overall) in 2007.
“I’m looking forward to picking his brain a lot. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him from the guys that I’m friends with that he’s caught,” C.J. Wilson said. “They told me he’s super prepared and super focused on his job. It should be really exciting.”
Molina spent the past 31⁄ seasons with the Giants, where the starting rotation including two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, All-Star Matt Cain and former AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito.
“I feel sad obviously. They are good friends and you had them for so many years, you become family and you care for them,” Molina said. “At the same time, you’ve got to turn the page and see the positives. The positive is the Rangers are in first place and trying to win the whole thing. I’m just coming here to help, and that’s the way you’ve got to see it.”
The Rangers optioned catcher Max Ramirez to Triple-A Oklahoma City before Friday’s game to add Molina to their 25-man roster.
Manager Ron Washington plans to continue his rotation of catchers like he has been, except that Molina will get the bulk of the time like Matt Treanor had been with Ramirez. Treanor, in his seventh major league season, has already played in 56 games, 11 shy of his career high set for Florida in 2006.
“I told Bengie just be Bengie. I don’t want him to come up in here and think he has to put on some kind of show for us,” Washington said. “I know Bengie, watched him a long time. Very happy to have him.”
Molina is a two-time Gold Glove winner who has played 13 seasons for the Angels (1998-2005), Toronto (2006) and San Francisco (2007-10). He is a .275 hitter in 1,305 career games with 142 home runs and 692 RBIs.
“I don’t know the Giants without Molina,” said Zito, who went to San Francisco in 2007. “It’s unfortunate. We lost a great guy, a very hard worker and a guy that cares more than anyone else probably that I’ve ever played with.”
Bengie Molina, left, as a San Francisco Giant on June 11, tags out the Oakland Athletics’ Mark Ellis. Now Molina is a starter for the Texas Rangers, thanks to a trade.