Published July 01, 2010
| Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The AL West-leading Texas Rangers filled a significant need Thursday by acquiring veteran catcher Bengie Molina and cash from the San Francisco Giants for reliever Chris Ray and a minor league pitcher.
Molina is expected to join the Rangers and be in the lineup Friday night, when they start a 10-game homestand leading into the All-Star break.
"Bengie brings an experience level that we were looking for," general manager Jon Daniels said. "A strong defensive catcher, experience in the postseason and in the pennant race, and handling very good pitchers."
The 35-year-old Molina, who went to the playoffs three times with the Angels and won a World Series in 2002, is hitting .257 with three home runs and 17 RBIs. The two-time Gold Glove winner became expendable when the Giants recently promoted top prospect Buster Posey.
"I'm excited. Why not? I get the opportunity to catch more," Posey said. "At the same time you hate to see a guy like Bengie go. Good guy. Good teammate."
When Ivan Rodriguez didn't stay in Texas after a short reunion with his original team last year, the Rangers began this season with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden as their catchers. Both are back in the minor leagues.
Matt Treanor, acquired from Milwaukee during spring training, and Max Ramirez have split the catching duties since. Both opening day catchers were optioned to the minors April 27.
"I don't think we were crying out for help. We just wanted a front-line guy," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Treanor and Max are why we're where we are now. It's an upgrade. That's no knock on anyone else. "
Treanor, in his seventh major league season, has already played 55 games, only 12 shy of his career high set for Florida in 2006. The Rangers had agreed to trade Ramirez last winter to Boston before the deal fell apart because of Mike Lowell's thumb injury.
"It's that time of the year when the grind really starts," Treanor said. "My situation is getting the opportunity to play in the postseason. However it takes us to get there I want that to happen."
Molina leaves a Giants staff that includes two-time NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and All-Star Matt Cain.
"Everything he's done for the last 3½ years definitely helped all of us," Cain said.
"No one has had the effect on me as Bengie has. He has helped me mature through the game. He helped me succeed," Lincecum said. "He deserves half the credit for the awards that I have gotten. It's tough watching him go."
The rotation for the Rangers, who haven't been to the playoffs since 1999, includes Scott Feldman (5-6), who has struggled after being a 17-game winner last year, Colby Lewis (7-5, 3.28 ERA in his return from Japan) and former reliever C.J. Wilson. Rich Harden is on the disabled list.
Ray, the right-handed reliever in the deal, is 2-0 with a 3.41 ERA in 35 games this season. The Rangers also sent right-hander Michael Main, their 2007 first-round draft pick (24th overall), to San Francisco.
"We felt we could use the pitching help," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We had a couple of catchers here and thought the time was right."
When Saltalamacchia went on the disabled list last August and had season-ending shoulder surgery, the Rangers got Rodriguez from Houston. But Pudge stayed only for the end of last season and signed a two-year free-agent deal with Washington last winter.
Saltalamacchia had the game-winning hit for Texas in its 2010 season opener, but played only two games before going on the DL with an upper back strain. He then was sent to the minors because of his troublesome inconsistency on the throws back to the pitcher.
Teagarden hit .037 (1 for 27) in 10 games for Texas before being sent down, and is now at Double-A Frisco.
Washington and Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose team faced Texas on Thursday night, both said Molina's top asset is his ability to connect with and communicate with pitchers.
"This guy is a winner," Daniels said. "He takes a lot of pride in his game-calling, working with his staff, understanding the game plan. ... He's excited to be here and really wants a chance to win again."
Texas recalled right-hander Pedro Strop from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. The Rangers will have to make a move Friday to add Molina to their 25-man roster.
AP Sports Writers Beth Harris in Anaheim, Calif., and Pat Graham in Denver contributed to this report.