Former Giant Molina surprised, honored by retirement bash


Former Giant Molina surprised, honored by retirement bash

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Bengie Molina couldntunderstand why his in-laws wanted to browse in the sporting goods store for solong Saturday afternoon. He couldnt figure out why they suddenly wanted toleave. And when he approached his house, he didnt recognize the carsparked on the street. Thats when I knew, Molina told me.Something was going on.

Hewalked into a surprise retirement party and a room full of former teammates,coaches, trainers and clubhouse personnel. Matt Cain, Barry Zito, JeremyAffeldt and Travis Ishikawa were there from his years with the Giants. Heplayed with Ramon Ortiz and Ervin Santana with the Angels. And there wereothers he never counted as teammates: catchers like Ramon Hernandez and MiguelMontero, and yes, newest Angel Albert Pujols. Thatsthe impact Bengie had on guys around the league, Cain told me. It was great.We had a good time. Its always fun to be around Bengie. He was a great teammate,such a great family guy, and really, a great friend. You know youve got alifetime friend with Bengie. He always cared about all his teammates and itshowed. It showed last night." Molina hasnt playedsince Game 5 of the World Series, when he was the starting catcher for theTexas Rangers -- a team he joined after a July 1 trade that basically freed upthe catching position for Buster Posey with the Giants. Hedidnt play last season but hadnt announced his retirement. The party made itofficial. It was a special night, said Molina, whosesurprise bash was organized by his wife, Jamie. I cant thank enough all thepeople that came. At some point they touched my life and helped me be who I amright now. Molina retires with a .274 average over parts of13 major league seasons with the Angels, Blue Jays, Giants and Rangers. Hesalso the eldest of the history-making Molina clan, joining Jose and Yadier asthe only trio of brothers to own World Series rings. Infact, theyll each own two. Yadier claimed his second ringlast season with the St. Louis Cardinals. Jose owns a pair as well; he andBengie were teammates on the 2002 Angels club that defeated the Giants. Josewon another with the 09 Yankees. And yes, Bengie has tworings in his collection. Even though he played on the losing side in 2010, theGiants saw fit to give him a ring for the contributions he made prior to theJuly 1 trade for reliever Chris Ray. Giants vice presidentBobby Evans arranged for one of the Tiffany sparklers to be sent to Bengieshouse. Yeah, I have it with me, Bengie said. Im veryproud of that. Even though I didnt play for them in the World Series, I felt Ihelped those kids. I wasnt part of the winning team, but I contributed in manyother ways. It was a really good feeling when they gave that tome. The Giants are sure to stage many, many reunions andevents for the 2010 World Series champions in the future. Bengie said he hopesto be a part of them. Oh, I would enjoy it with all myheart, he said. You dont have any idea. Ill go back in a heartbeat. Anyday, doesnt matter. Giants fans treated me with respect and gave me theirlove. I have nothing to be ashamed of to go back. I stillcheer for the Giants. All my friends are there. It all depends on whatownership wants. Its common for retiring players toreflect on their careers and appreciate the time that they enjoyed in the bigleagues. Molina didnt need to stop playing to appreciate what he had. Hewasnt drafted, signed for 500 and paid every due imaginable in the minorleagues while proving he was more than an organizationalplayer. In addition to his big league friends, members ofthe Angels front office and clubhouse staff were at the party to congratulatehim. So were his old coach and pitching coach (yes, he was once a pitcher) fromArizona Western College. Im a kid who wasnt supposed tomake it, he said. I was one step lower than everyone else. So Im very happywith what I was able to make and what I did in my career. I wake up every dayand thank God for the opportunities I had. I have no regrets inbaseball. Hes especially happy for the pitchers he workedwith over the years. I always wanted them to be greatpitchers to help us win, but I also wanted them to be able to make a living andbe able to take care of thief families, he said. I look back at a JarrodWashburn or John Lackey, or a (Tim) Lincecum or Cain. They were able to makegood money to support their families. Do you know how great I feel aboutthat? Those pitchers felt just as good about pulling thesurprise on him. It was important to support Bengie becausehes been such a supportive person when he played, Zito told me. Hes one ofthe best teammates Ive ever had. It was important to take time to let him knowI wish him well in the next phase of his life. It can be a daunting thing for aplayer to go to the next stage. This is a lifestyle, not just ajob. Next up for Molina is some traveling, fishing andenjoying time with his wife and two daughters. He wants to take a trip to seethe Olympics in London.Then, in a year or two, he plans to look for a coaching position where he canmake an impact. His late father, Benjamin, was deeply invested in youthbaseball in Puerto Rico until the day he diedof a heart attack in 2008. He was crossing the street with boxes of baseballsin his hands when he collapsed. I want to dedicate myselfto do what my dad did: teaching kids how to play, and also how to be a betterperson and how to love their families, Bengie said. Im going to try to passit on. For now, he has one more message to pass along tofans: They made a difference in my life, he said. Pleasetell the fans, and not only Giants fans, but wherever I played, tell them I saythank you so much for all the support and the cheers. Everything I did, I didfrom the heart. For the Giants, tell them congratulations from me for the WorldSeries, and thank you. And tell them theyve got a youngcatcher theyll enjoy for a long, long time. Buster Posey is a superstar. Hesso serious. He wants to get better every day. Were always texting each otherand hes a great kid. I love him a lot. I think of him as one of my brothers,too.

Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate


Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

SACRAMENTO -- A young man named Clayton Blackburn walked into the home clubhouse at Raley Field on Tuesday decked out in Round Rock gear. 

"You're here for my start?" he said, smiling.

Sorry, Clayton, I was on Panda Watch for two days. But it was fun watching Blackburn, DFA’d in a weird move earlier this year, face former teammates. Blackburn hasn't had a great season with Texas, but he is still just 24 and he has gotten into terrific shape. Given what happened during his call-up last year, you should root for him to get a second chance. 

Blackburn gave up three runs over six innings against his former team. The River Cats won on Jarrett Parker’s walk-off homer to dead center with two outs in the ninth. Parker was one of many familiar faces in the lineup Tuesday. Here are some thoughts on guys you know, and guys you will: 

--- Trevor Brown is the backup catcher in Sacramento, which is certainly a fall from his run as Buster Posey's backup. Brown is batting .168 in what has been a very frustrating season for him. The groin injury that slowed him early lingered, he had a concussion, and he hasn't been able to find any BABIP luck. This year seems a lost one for a guy who was a big part of 2016. I’m still intrigued by his versatility.

--- Chris Shaw is the latest podcast guest. You can stream it here. We talked about his power, his move to left, thinking he was a Ray, and more. I didn't see many at-bats, but I saw enough in left field to be confident he'll be fine out there. 

--- Parker started in center field and made a nice running catch at the wall. He wouldn't hold up as a big league center fielder, but perhaps the Giants should throw him out there a few times down the stretch to see if he can be a backup option next season. Parker said he finally found his swing over the past few games. His rehab assignment ends in about a week, and he’s expected back in San Francisco. 

--- Reyes Moronta, who spent a day in the majors in May, was promoted to Triple-A. In his first inning, Drew Stubbs took him deep. I found that quirky. It's been a long season with far too many transactions. 

--- If Steven Duggar would stay healthy, he would probably make it up to SF in September. Unfortunately, his hamstring was tight again this week, keeping him out of San Jose’s lineup for a few days. Speaking of health: Tyler Beede’s groin injury will keep him out longer than just the standard DL time … Melvin Upton Jr. is still in Sacramento rehabbing a shoulder injury, but he’s not throwing yet so it’s hard to picture him making any noise before September call-up time …Christian Arroyo is in Arizona rehabbing from hand surgery. 

--- Derek Law was smiling because Derek Law is always smiling. He has a 4.32 ERA but said he feels much better than those results. “My slider is back,” Law said. He should be, too, when the Giants expand their roster. There are some other interesting relievers in Sacramento. A first baseman told me opposing hitters grumble about facing D.J. Snelten (1.84 ERA) and Tyler Rogers has a 1.94 ERA as a dirt-scraping right-hander. 

--- A teammate predicted Carlos Moncrief would hit .270 in the big leagues if called up, and he ended up getting that call Wednesday morning. Moncrief is a fun clubhouse addition. He gave Sandoval some good-natured heckling for talking to reporters after going 1 for 4. 

--- The Giants have had a lot of veterans visit San Jose this season. They all bought the postgame spread, but word around the block is that Madison Bumgarner provided the best meal. He had steak and lobster delivered to San Jose Muni. 

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Eduardo Nuñez left San Francisco in a strange way. The third baseman was traded in the middle of Tuesday night’s game and mostly said his goodbyes in a stairwell behind the home dugout at AT&T Park. Before joining the Red Sox, Nuñez took to his social media pages to send a message to the Giants and their fans. 

On Twitter, Nuñez thanked the organization for “the great opportunity and experiences learned” and wished the team the best of luck. His Instagram message was a bit longer. 

“I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing team,” Nuñez wrote. “I value the experiences learned during my time here and I will miss my teammates, the fans, and the beautiful city of San Francisco very much. Best wishes to the Giants organization during the rest of this season. God Bless.”

Nuñez is expected to join the Red Sox on Friday. Boston’s manager, John Farrell, told reporters that his new infielder will get “a high number of at-bats” despite the presence of top prospect Rafael Devers. 

"This is someone who's swinging the bat very well right now,” Farrell said, according to "A high energy player that can run the bases well. He’s got really good line drive power so his .300-plus batting average to mix into this lineup is a good addition."