Molina right into start­ing lineup for Rangers

Ex-Gi­ant re­turns to AL West, team ea­ger to have him

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

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.”

Jeff Chiu

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.

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