Results tagged ‘ Bengie Molina ’

Molina fine with move to fifth

SAN FRANCISCO — Did you notice the subtle difference in the Giants’ batting order Monday? Bengie Molina batted fifth in the series opener against the Colorado Rockies — marking the first time that he hadn’t hit cleanup since the 2007 season. Pablo Sandoval replaced Molina in the four-hole.

Manager Bruce Bochy explained that he hoped to re-create the magic of Sunday, when San Francisco lashed 15 hits and defeated the Dodgers, 7-2. As Molina rested, Sandoval went 2-for-4 from the fourth spot. In fact, each of San Francisco’s collected multiple hits and combined to go 10-for-17 with five RBIs.

“I like the way it went yesterday,” Bochy said before Monday’s game. “It’s not a lot of tweaking, but we put some runs on the board.”

Molina, who hit mostly sixth in 2007 before replacing Barry Bonds at cleanup, accepted the move unblinkingly.

“I always respect what Bochy has to do,” Molina said.

Molina said that Bochy didn’t consult him before making the move but noted, “He doesn’t have to. He’s the manager; [Brian] Sabean’s the general manager. They’re the ones who make the decisions.”

Many critics have charged that Molina isn’t a prototypical cleanup hitter. But he has been extremely productive, at least by the club’s standards. He amassed a career-high 95 RBIs last year and entered Monday ranked second on the club in homers (17) and RBIs (70). “I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of,” Molina said. “I probably did much more than they expected.”

– Chris Haft

Just a guess: Lincecum should be OK

SAN FRANCISCO — The headline says it all. I’ve received no classified information, but I firmly believe that Tim Lincecum’s ailing back should not cause panic. Here’s why:

– First and foremost, it’s not an arm injury.

– Nor is it an oblique injury, although we reporters were told that Lincecum’s left side is affected. Side (oblique) strains have been the undoing of several pitchers, including Tim Hudson, another smallish hurler to whom Lincecum has been compared.

– Then there was the comment made by Bengie Molina after the Giants lost 4-3 Tuesday to the Padres. “It’s encouraging for us that he’s probably going to [make] his next start,” Molina said. “We need him on the mound.”

Does Molina know something that Lincecum or the Giants’ athletic training staff isn’t sharing with the public until they absolutely, positively have to open their mouths? Possibly. But I’m surmising that Molina’s remarks reflected the scuttlebutt in the clubhouse.

– Chris Haft

 

Bochy ‘fesses up on Penny hijinks; Velez glows

PHILADELPHIA — Now the story can be told. When Bruce Bochy managed the Padres and Brad Penny pitched against them as a visitor with Florida and the Dodgers, the velocity readings at the ballpark were about 5 mph slower than they should have been.

That’s because Bochy, knowing that Penny habitually checked the speed of his deliveries after every pitch, tried to mess with the right-hander’s head by ordering the velocity gurus to slow down his readings by 5 mph.

Penny casually mentioned this after throwing his eight shutout innings Wednesday night, and Bochy confessed to this crime Thursday.

Trouble was, Penny’s speed-run readings were still impressive. “I’d see ’94,’ ” Bochy said. When he reminded the crew to subtract 5 mph from the speed readings, the reply came, “We are.”

*****

Despite the Giants’ 2-1 loss Thursday, Eugenio Velez couldn’t resist a smile when he was asked to discuss his home run off his Dominican countryman, Pedro Martinez.

“Man, that’s my favorite pitcher,” Velez said. “I feel so excited because that’s the best pitcher I’ve faced.”

Velez jumped on the game’s first pitch, a fastball. He explained that this was the wisest approach to take against Martinez.

“With a pitcher like him, you have to be aggressive, always,” Velez said. “You’re going to see only one pitch [to hit], and then he’s going to make his pitch.”

*****

Bengie Molina, who returned to the starting lineup Thursday after an eight-game absence due to a tight right quadriceps, met with Bochy after Wednesday night’s game. Shockingly, they didn’t invite reporters to join them. But Bochy revealed that the talk was constructive and mostly involved Molina’s physical state. The chat apparently wasn’t dominated by Molina’s concerns about management’s plans for him in light of Buster Posey’s promotion, as was reported.

“We talked about [Molina's] start today and we’ll give him more time [off] if he wants,” Bochy said. “He wants to do all he can to help contribute to the cause here.”

*****

Asked what he thought the ideal scenario for Posey’s Major League debut would be, Bochy said, “I think it would be a start, to help him in his preparation.” That’s not likely, though, as long as Molina stays healthy and the Giants remain in contention.

– Chris Haft 

Promising health update for Molina

SAN FRANCISCO — This isn’t extremely detailed, but manager Bruce Bochy said after Thursday night’s 11-0 loss to Arizona that the MRI of catcher Bengie Molina’s right quadriceps revealed a “mild strain.”

The strain was known. The “mild” part was a little less certain.

So, Bochy said, “I think we got some pretty good news there.”

– Chris Haft

Tight quad sidelines Molina again; picture Torres

SAN FRANCISCO — Catcher Bengie Molina was out of the lineup for the second game in a row with tightness in his quadriceps. Eli Whiteside replaced Molina, the Giants’ cleanup hitter who’s batting .261 with 15 home runs and 64 RBIs.

Manager Bruce Bochy sounded optimistic that Molina would return soon. But he didn’t want to rush the veteran. “Let’s get that thing healthy,” Bochy said, referring to Molina’s injury.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval (strained right calf) also began his second consecutive game on the bench, though he remained available to pinch-hit, as he did Tuesday night.

The Giants want both Molina and Sandoval at full strength by Friday, when they begin their critical three-game rematch against the Colorado Rockies.

*****

The Giants posed for their team picture Wednesday, and it was too bad that outfielder Andres Torres wasn’t around. Torres is playing in Arizona as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

Torres hustled his way onto the Opening Day roster and was instrumental in a couple of victories earlier this season. The team photo simply wouldn’t be complete without him.

– Chris Haft

 

Villalona injured; Molina praises Sandoval; fun facts

SAN FRANCISCO — First baseman Angel Villalona, one of the Giants’ leading prospects, is expected to miss at least four weeks with a strained left quadriceps.<p/>

Villalona injured himself Tuesday while playing for the Giants’ Class A San Jose affiliate. His injury will prevent him from participating in Sunday’s Futures Game with the World team. In 74 games, Villalona, who hit .267 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 74 games, played in last year’s Futures Game at Yankee Stadium.

*****

Bengie Molina delivered a high compliment to Pablo Sandoval after Thursday’s 9-3 vvictory over Florida.

“I really really hope that pablo can hit 30 home runs and get 150 RBIs,” said Molina, who’s tied with Sandoval for the team lead in RBIs with 50. “I wish and hope he beats me in RBIs, homers and average … I love that kid. After Roberto Clemente, he’s my favorite player. And he should have gone to the All-Star Game.”

*****

Tim Lincecum became the third Giants starter to lose a no-hitter upon facing the first batter of the seventh inning. It also happened to Randy Johnson on April 19 against Arizona and Barry Zito on June 21 against Texas.

– Chris Haft

Of Molina’s unsurpassed grace and the Unit’s tribute

PHOENIX — Among the most exasperating sights for Giants fans is watching Bengie Molina plod up the first-base line as he runs out a ground ball, force himself to stop at first base on what would be a double for any other player or put on the brakes at third base in the knowledge that he’d be thrown out at home … which was the case in Wednesday’s ninth inning, when Molina couldn’t score from first base on Pablo Sandoval’s double.

If you think Molina doesn’t care about this, you’re wrong. Making fun of Molina for being slow would be like making fun of a teenager with acne. They’re painfully aware of their flaws. In Molina’s case, his lead feet prompt him to pursue excellence in other facets of the game that much more ardently.

He addressed this eloquently after the Giants’ 6-4 victory over Arizona.

“This is what God gave me,” Molina said, referring to his ponderous pace. “I have to deal with it. If it were up to me, I’d score every time they hit. That’s why I want to do way much more than running. That’s why I want to catch, that’s why I want to block balls, that’s why I want to throw guys out, that’s why I want to call a good game for the guys, that’s why I want to hit and get RBIs. Because there’s one part of my game that I feel bad about. But I want to do so many other things to be able to overcome that.”

Lest you think that Molina was being too hard on himself, he paused and added, with a tiny grin on his face, “I think I’m doing pretty good.”

I think the Giants would agree.

*****

As promised, the Diamondbacks delivered their video tribute to Randy Johnson after the third inning. It was extremely brief, lasting about a minute. The montage of film clips included snippets from Johnson’s perfect game in 2004 and his 20-strikeout game — both of which he pitched during his first stint with Arizona (1999-2004). He also pitched for the D-backs from 2007-08.

D-backs fans, who haven’t seemed to embrace Johnson as they should, cheered as highlights of Johnson’s 300th career victory last Wednesday in Washington were shown, accompanied by Jon Miller’s call once the game ended and the Big Unit’s milestone became official.

Johnson responded by standing on the top step of the visitors’ dugout and holding his cap aloft.

– Chris Haft

 

Molina to stay at cleanup — for now

MIAMI — After collecting two hits against the New York Mets on May 17, Bengie Molina was batting .304. He entered Friday night’s series opener against the Florida Marlins hitting .247. During this slump, Molina remained in the cleanup spot in the Giants’ batting order.

This didn’t mean that manager Bruce Bochy was sitting idly by. Actually, Bochy said Friday, he considered moving Pablo Sandoval to the four-hole and even consulted Molina about it.

“Bochy’s the manager and [Brian] Sabean’s the general manager,” Molina said. “Whatever they want for this team, I don’t let that worry me.”

One can imagine that Sandoval’s two-run homer, which accounted for the sum total of the Giants’ offense in their 2-1 victory Friday over the Florida Marlins, might sway Bochy toward making a change. But Molina also stroked two singles, one of them preceding Sandoval’s homer.

Hence the slight but perceptible change in Bochy’s outlook regarding the cleanup spot …

Pregame: “We’ll see how it goes the next couple of days.” (Translation — a change is possible)

Postgame: “If I felt like [a change] would lighten the load on him … The way it went tonight, I’m going to leave it the way it is.” (Translation — Molina ain’t budging for the foreseeable future)

Meanwhile, Sandoval outdid himself with his wild hacking Friday. When he wasn’t homering, he was swinging more freely than usual — which takes a lot, in his case.

As Sandoval explained, he simply was trying to be himself: “Get my pitch, [be] the Pablo I am — aggressive at home plate. Get a pitch to hit a line drive. That [the home run] was the best swing I had in the game.”

– Chris Haft

Every day in uniform’s a good day; so are days out of uniform

SAN FRANCISCO — It was suggested after the Giants’ 6-3 victory Wednesday over Atlanta, which completed a three-game sweep and gave them four wins in their last five games, that Thursday’s scheduled off-day was ill-timed and might halt the team’s momentum.

But center fielder Aaron Rowand, an expert in team dynamics, wasn’t worried.

“Honestly, I don’t think anybody’s really thinking about that,” Rowand said. “During a 162-game season, any off-day’s welcome. I don’t think an off-day is going to stop any sort of momentum. I think everybody’s pretty excited about the way we played the last three days and we’re going to try to carry it on against the Cardinals.”

Manager Bruce Bochy, however, stuck to the time-honored philosophy. “You’d rather have the off-day when you’re struggling a little bit,” he said.

*****

One Giant who can use the off-day is right fielder Randy Winn, who left the game after fouling a pitch off his left knee in the fifth inning. Winn insisted afterward that he felt OK, and he appeared to walk through the clubhouse without limping.

*****

It got overlooked by the Randy Johnson victory countdown and the rousing offense, but the play of the game had to be second baseman Emmanuel Burriss’ running catch of Matt Diaz’s pop-up to open the fifth inning. Burriss sped into foul ground and snared the ball near the right-field bullpen.

*****

Bengie Molina’s fifth-inning single interrupted a 2-for-35 slump. However, Molina came to the plate twice more and was retired both times, extending his skid to 3-for-38.

Sandoval’s elbow causes concern; more from Sabean

SEATTLE — Pablo Sandoval has a tender right elbow which he injured in Friday night’s seventh inning as he dove to stop a Kenji Johjima grounder. This limited Sandoval to designated-hitter duties Saturday, a role he’ll probably occupy again Sunday.

But Sandoval’s diminished ability to throw affects more than just whether he can play third base.

Manager Bruce Bochy will be forced to keep catcher Bengie Molina in the lineup until Sandoval can throw again. Molina already has started eight games in a row and might not rest again until Thursday’s scheduled off-day. Meanwhile, his batting average has taken a beating, dropping from .304 to .276 during a 1-for-17 skid entering Saturday. Bochy said he wanted Sandoval to catch Sunday, but Molina likely will have to keep toiling.

Bochy said that emergency No. 3 catcher Kevin Frandsen is not ready to start a game behind the plate.

Summoning a catcher from Triple-A Fresno is an option — it’d probably be Eli Whiteside, since Steve Holm was demoted last week and has to stay put for at least 10 days — yet neither Bochy nor general manager Brian Sabean indicated that this would happen soon.

***** 

More stuff from general manager Brian Sabean, who spoke Saturday with reporters covering the Giants (a main story is on the website):

On closer Brian Wilson, who has lost three of his last five outings while compiling a 12.28 ERA: “[He has] had some trials and tribulations, but that’s going to be natural; He’s still cutting his teeth doing that job.”

On the team in general, other than its lousy hitting: “I like the effort and I like the fact that we’re doing two things you have to do to compete, and that’s pitch and play defense.”

When asked if he has seen enough of first baseman Travis Ishikawa to evaluate him fully: “I don’t think so. … With him it’s consistency. We’ve seen him have some really good at-bats against some really good pitching and then just the opposite. In his case, while we really love the defense. … The strikeouts (29 in 93 at-bats entering Saturday) don’t help and the low on-base percentage (.298) doesn’t help.”

On Pablo Sandoval’s progress at third base: “At least in this snapshot, he’s shown that he can play that position and it’s more than making routine plays. He’s much more accomplished than I think we all thought, at least up to this point.”

Finally, Sabean squashed any speculation that he came here to get fired or discuss his job security with managing general partner Bill Neukom, who’s also in town. They did not discuss his job status, said Sabean, whose contract expires after this season. Sabean planned to spend the weekend scouting amateur players for next month’s draft, but decided to see the big club after the excruciating three-game sweep in San Diego.”I don’t want the reputation of not being around when things are a little upside down,” Sabean said. 

– Chris Haft

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