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A Molina has caught their eye

Currently retired
By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / May 11, 2011

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TORONTO — When you hear the name “Molina,’’ what do you think of?

Excellence in catching.

The Red Sox have made contact with the representatives for Bengie Molina, though according to a report by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, they aren’t ready to pull the trigger, wanting to give the Jarrod Saltalamacchia-Jason Varitek tandem more time.

Jose Molina, a backup catcher with the Blue Jays, didn’t want to speak for his brother, but he would like to see him come out of his retirement.

“I guess he wants to, but it’s his decision, so I don’t want to say anything,’’ Jose Molina said. “He’s home. I bet he’s still working out.’’

Does he have the ability to play again?

“Of course he can still play,’’ Jose Molina said. “You saw it last year. He took two teams to the World Series. I don’t think many catchers have done that.

“Bengie proved everybody wrong last year. He can play, he can hit. I wish I had his numbers, and everybody says he had a poor season. I wish I were in the World Series. I’ll bet you all the other 28 teams, those catchers wish they were in the World Series.’’

Molina hit .249 between San Francisco and Texas — the World Series participants — with five homers and 36 RBIs in 377 at-bats. The arrival of Buster Posey made the 36-year-old Molina expendable in San Francisco, and Texas was there to scoop him up.

Molina, who earned two World Series shares, had some big hits in the postseason. He hit .357 with one homer and two RBIs vs. Tampa Bay in the ALDS and .313 with one homer and five RBIs vs. the Yankees in the ALCS.

But in the offseason, he didn’t have many choices. There were hints that he was banged up or wanted more than anyone was willing to pay him.

“I wish he would play again,’’ Jose Molina said. “When we were in the offseason, he was banged up from the World Series and I said, ‘Bengie, keep getting ready, you’ll have a job.’

“At that period of time, he felt that [retirement] was the best thing to do, but right now I want him to play. I love seeing him play because I know wherever he goes, the team is going to have success. I wish it would happen, but it’s up to him.’’

As you might expect, the younger brother (by one year) continued to heap praise on the older brother.

“He deserves the money,’’ said Jose Molina. “I love owners who try to take advantage of the situation by not giving him the money he deserves, and that’s probably why some teams are where they are with the need of catching.

“Bengie is a top catcher and a clutch hitter. That’s what you need in the World Series. You see how he did against the Yankees in the playoffs.

“He didn’t hit that well in the regular season but he turned around in the playoffs and took that team [Rangers] to the World Series. And the Giants were his team for 3 1/2 years. He just gives you everything he has no matter what.’’

Jose Molina knows the pecking order in the family. He understands that Yadier Molina of the Cardinals is the stud, that Bengie has been an effective starter with a career .274 average, and that he is a career backup.

All three brothers have different styles behind the plate, but the one common thread, Jose said, is “we know how to call a game.’’

“I don’t know where it comes from,’’ he added. “I know that we’ve seen a lot of baseball and we’ve been around the game. We know pitching and how to handle our pitchers, so that’s the common thing between us.’’

Jose said he and Bengie are probably not as into video preparation as is the younger Yadier.

“I hate watching video of hitters,’’ he said. “I go by feel, feel what the pitcher has that day and what his best stuff is and go with that. That’s the way I do it.

“I wish I was the other way and I liked to watch tape, but I’m not that way. Yadier is more video. Bengie, when we were in Anaheim together, I don’t think he watched too much video, either. We just went through reports.’’

There’s a certain bluntness when the Molinas talk to their pitchers.

“Tell them the truth,’’ Jose said. “Even though you b.s. them when they’re bad and tell them what to do to get better. If they’re good, tell them how good they are. I think they appreciate that.’’

Molina is still very proud of the fact that he and his brothers made it to the big leagues and that their name is synonymous with good catching.

“It is amazing,’’ Molina said. “It says a lot about our family and our parents and all the jobs they had to do for us when we were kids. The rest was up to us. What they taught us at a young age, it was special. We have a lot of pride in our family.

“The most important thing is we always stay humble. We don’t do anything to make any other people feel bad. We’re just happy we made it and we make a living out of this.’’

While the Red Sox consider whether there will be a Molina in their future, Jose Molina is sure about one of the Boston catchers.

“Varitek, he knows how to call a game,’’ Molina said. “That’s what everybody wants in a catcher. He knows how to take care of his pitchers. To me he’s one of the best in the world.

“I watch him all the time, because he has good stuff behind the plate. I love to watch him. I love the way he catches.’’

And from a Molina, that’s saying a lot.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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