Tag:Bengie Molina
Posted on: February 26, 2012 6:54 pm
 

Bengie Molina officially retires with a party

By Matt Snyder

What, you didn't know that Bengie Molina wasn't retired yet? Hard to blame anyone who didn't, because he did not play at all in 2011. He just had never offically announced his retirement. Saturday night (via CSNBayArea.com), in the form of a retirement party with former Giants teammates, it happened. So he's now off the free agency market.

Molina, 37, retires with a career line of .274/.307/.411 with 144 home runs and 711 RBI in 1,362 regular-season games. He has two World Series rings (he got a ring from the 2010 Giants, even though he was traded July 1 of that season), just like his two brothers, Yadier and Jose. Bengie Molina played for the Angels, Blue Jays, Giants and Rangers. He won the AL Gold Glove in 2002 and 2003, when he was the Angels' starting catcher.

Up next for Molina? Take it away, CSNBayArea.com:
Next up for Molina is some traveling, fishing and enjoying time with his wife and two daughters. He wants to take a trip to see the Olympics in London. Then, in a year or two, he plans to look for a coaching position where he can make an impact. His late father, Benjamin, was deeply invested in youth baseball in Puerto Rico until the day he died of a heart attack in 2008. He was crossing the street with boxes of baseballs in his hands when he collapsed.

“I want to dedicate myself to do what my dad did: teaching kids how to play, and also how to be a better person and how to love their families,” Bengie said. “I’m going to try to pass it on.”

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 10:28 am
 

Pepper: Where will Bubba Starling end up?

Starling

By Evan Brunell

TOUGH DECISION: Bubba Starling has a choice -- accept a hefty bonus and head to the minor leagues for a few years in the hope he can rise up the ladder and join the Royals. The hometown athlete was drafted by Kansas City in June but he has yet to sign with the deadline coming up on Monday. Starling has a tough decision to make -- join K.C. or head to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, where fame as a quarterback awaits.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Starling told the Kansas City Star.

Starling was at the University of Nebraska signing autographs and fans obviously were rooting for Starling to opt to join the Cornhuskers. The problem is, that's a lot of money for Starling to give up to play football, a sport that's more dangerous to overall long-term health.

“If it was my son, I’d probably tell him to play baseball,” fan Kevin Sullivan said. “But, you know, if he’s going to play Nebraska football …” (Kansas City Star)

BIZARRE INJURY
: There's always a few injuries each season that make you do a double-take. Chris Narveson was a victim of such an injury, slicing his thumb with scissors while trying to repair his glove. He required eight stitches and will miss his next start. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

BACK TO SCHOOL: Zachary Houchins, the Nationals' 15th round pick, is heading back to college. “I haven’t had [contact with the Nationals] any since all that stuff happened,” Houchins said. “I’m set on going back to school. ... I’m happy with it. I’d love to go back there.”

Houchins is referring to epithets used to describe African-Americans, homosexuals and Chinese on his Twitter feed in June, since deleted. The Nationals were upset with his words, which Houchins admitted they had a right to be. Houchins added, though, that the comments weren't hateful and just part of how he and his friends (many African-American) talk.

“Honestly, in my eyes, there was no lesson to learn,” Houchins said. “It’s just what I said got blown out of proportion, and I paid the price for it.” (Washington Post)

CLUTCH: Matthew Leach runs through a list of players who have been clutch so far this season. The one thing that caught my eye is Asdrubal Cabrera's performance with the bases loaded -- a pristine 6 for 6. (MLB.com)

INJURY PROBLEMS: Paul Konerko's left calf strain has made lineup maneuverings tough for skipper Ozzie Guillen, and if the White Sox had gone into extra innings last night, would have done so without a DH when Konerko was pinch-run for by Brent Lillibridge, with Lillibridge moving to first for the ninth. (Chicago Tribune)

LYNN, TOO: Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn strained his left oblique in Tuesday's game and will hit the disabled list, depriving the team of one of its most dependable late-inning relievers. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SURGERY: Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is likely to undergo surgery to repair a hyperextended left elbow, and would prefer to get it over with sooner rather than later. (Cincinnati.com)

LOPEZ ... HEPING? There's a piece up today about Felipe Lopez, who supposedly doing well in Milwaukee after coming over from Tampa Bay, starting nine of the last 10 games. How someone hitting .235/.289/.235 in 34 at-bats (which was conveniently omitted from the story) is doing well is not clear. (MLB.com)

LAST RING: Bengie Molina was at the Rangers game on Tuesday, collecting his AL championship ring -- the last ring Texas needed to hand out. He also threw out the first pitch and told his ex-teammates not to waste their strong season. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

SANTO STATUE: The Cubs will unveil a statue of Ron Santo on Wednesday. In the article, an interesting tidbit: Kerry Wood only returned to the Cubs because he ran into GM Jim Hendry at Santo's funeral in December. (Chicago Tribune)

ILLEGAL BALLS: An independent baseball team, the Lake County Fielders, had a game suspended Friday night for claims that the team provided inferior baseballs to be used. These baseballs were not sanctioned for professional use, but were still brand new and purchased from a sporting goods store. In financial trouble, the team hadn't placed its order to Rawlings for the baseballs until it was too late, and umpires decided the baseballs weren't acceptable. League officials have since approved their usage. (DailyHerald.com)

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 9:44 pm
 

Molina doesn't expect to return to Giants

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Bengie MolinaFormer Giants catcher Bengie Molina tells Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury News that "heck yeah" he could put on a uniform tomorrow, but would be open to spending a couple of weeks in the minors if the Giants wanted him to return after the loss of Buster Posey.

Still, Molina noted he has yet to hear from the Giants and he doesn't expect one because of the way his tenure in San Francisco ended. Molina was not happy about the fact general manager Brian Sabean publicly said the Giants signed him to a one-year deal before the 2010 season just to serve as a bridge to Posey, and then replace him when Posey was ready.

"That tells you what a person he is, I guess," Molina said at the World Series. "He never tells me anything."

While Molina, 36, doesn't have the best relationship with Sabean, he said he "almost cried" when he saw what happened to Posey on Wednesday night.

"I was watching the game and saw where [Nate] Schierholtz was when he caught the ball. I knew it was going to be one of those plays," Molina said. "What I saw, what happened is that the ball maybe hit his hand. He didn't catch the ball. If he catches it, then he finishes turning and he finishes the tag. But he stopped turning, so he ended up in a bad position -- it's not that his positioning was bad. I would have done the same thing. But by not catching the ball, he didn't finish his turn. The same thing would've happened to me.

"It's a terrible, terrible thing. I feel so sad for him, for the team, for the fans. Our wives are friends, too. I sent him a text saying I am hopeful and praying for him."

Molina played parts of 13 seasons for the Angels, Blue Jays, Giants and Rangers, winning two Gold Gloves while with the Angels. Molina said he always feared that type of play at the plate would end his career.

"It was my biggest fear in the game -- the play you can't avoid," Molina said. "I wasn't a superstar. My knee or my shoulder, something like that happens, and I'm out of baseball."

Molina said if the Giants "are smart," they'd move Posey to first or third base, even though the Giants already have Pablo Sandoval (another converted catcher) at third and Brandon Belt at first base. Earlier this week Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he was worried about how often Posey was being hit by foul tips more often than usual.

"He's too valuable for his hitting to go through all the foul tips and the ways you get beaten up," Molina said of Posey. "Let him go like they did with Pablo [Sandoval]. Get somebody else who can help the team in catch. But that is important, too -- he is valuable to them behind the plate, too. So it is not easy. I don't know. He's just too good, man."

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 3:58 pm
 

Posey breaks leg, Giants call for Belt

Posey

By Evan Brunell


Buster Posey's collision with Scott Cousins on Wednesday fractured a bone in his lower left leg, delivering a devastating blow to the Giants.

In addition to a broken leg, Posey is thought to have torn ligaments as well,  as CSN Bay Area reports. The Giants later announced that Chris Stewart has been recalled to take Posey's place, with Brandon Belt also joining the roster along with Brandon Crawford.

Posey's broken leg could heal in one-to-two months, a time span common for a broken leg. However, broken legs can mean a wide range of severity, and the complication of torn ligaments makes a possible ETA for a return that much more murky. Some players return from a broken leg inside two months. Others miss almost two full seasons, as Kendrys Morales of the Angels can attest. It would surprise no one if Posey was done for the season, but let's exercise some restraint and wait for further clarification. He will undergo a MRI Thursday that should clarify the issue, although in Pablo Sandoval's mind, the issue's already been clarified.

"Good morning I feel so bad because we lost buster for rest of the season it's gonna be hard with out him," Sandoval tweeted on Thursday.

Posey's agent, Jeff Berry, said he was planning on calling Joe Torre, the new leader of on-field operations, in the hopes of changing the rules that allow runners to barrel into catchers.

"You leave players way too vulnerable," Berry said. "I can tell you Major League Baseball is less than it was before [Posey's injury]. It's stupid. I don't know if this ends up leading to a rule change, but it should. The guy [at the plate] is too exposed.

"If you go helmet to helmet in the NFL, it's a $100,000 fine, but in baseball, you have a situation in which runners are [slamming into] fielders. It's brutal. It's borderline shocking. It just stinks for baseball. I'm going to call Major League Baseball and put this on the radar. Because it's just wrong."

"It's part of baseball. I understand that," Bochy said in a news conference on Thursday according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "Guys run into catchers. Being a catcher, I've been in a few of them. You're in harm's way there. I do think we need to consider changing the rules a little bit because the catcher's so vulnerable -- and there are so many who've gotten hurt, and just a little bit. I mean, they've had their careers or shortened. And here's a guy that's very popular in baseball. Fans want to see him play. Now, he's out for a while. I'd like to see maybe something considered here where we can protect these guys a little bit more. They just don't have the protection to take a guy coming in full speed, with that kind of force."

Bochy said he had previously spoken to Posey about not getting out in front and blocking the plate -- and to an extent, Posey tried to honor that.

"He was not completely in front of the plate. He was in a position where he could make a tag without being hit, too," Bochy said. "He just got himself in a tough position there because [the way] his leg was situated. He was down on one knee, and ideally, you'd like to have the foot pointed that way to protect you a little bit. But, again, you're trying to handle a throw. You don't have time to get set up perfectly. That's what hurt him was his leg was tucked underneath him when he got hit."

This is a sticky situation. On one hand, Bochy clearly feels that Cousins didn't need to take out Posey. On the other, it was a game in extra innings with a potential scoring play. Cousins and the ball both arrived to Posey at virtually the same time, and if Cousins had chosen to attempt to slide to the plate, there's no guarantee he would have made it. It's just an unfortunate end result, but that's baseball.

Cousins tried to reach out to Posey, leaving two voicemails and told reporters Monday he did not sleep Wednesday night. "The last thing I wanted to do was break the guy's leg," he told the Palm Beach Post.

Belt takes the place of outfielder and pinch-runner Darren Ford, who hit the DL with an ankle sprain. The Giants were originally going to resist calling Belt up to replace Ford, but the loss of Posey has changed matters as the Giants need to find a way to inject offense into the club, and fast. The Giants won't have any trouble fitting Belt into the lineup, as first baseman Aubrey Huff is struggling with the bat while left field can also accommodate Belt's production.

Even though Huff hasn't played third base since a 33-game stint in 2008, it's possible the Giants could slide him to third temporarily to get Belt's bat in at first base, which would allow the team to continue playing Pat Burrell and Nate Schierholz in the outfield. In this scenario, Miguel Tejada would move back to shortstop, a position he vacated to fill Pablo Sandoval's absence at third. Now that the Giants have also lost Mike Fontenot to the DL due to a groin strain, the options to fill the shortstop position are weak enough to the point the club would likely benefit from Tejada moving back to short all in the name of getting Belt's bat into the lineup.

Stewart has been with four different teams in the last five years, playing mostly at Triple-A. He received eight at-bats in 2006 for his career debut with the White Sox before collecting 43 plate appearances for the Rangers in '07. The 29-year-old moved onto the Yankees, snagging just one game's worth of playing time in '08, playing for New York's Triple-A team the entirety of 2009 before returning to the bigs with San Diego last season. At San Diego he appeared in two games as a defensive replacement. Now, Stewart could easily match his career 54 plate appearances as the new tandem in San Francisco. Eli Whiteside is expected to get the bulk of the playing time in the early going, but he doesn't exactly command being slotted in the lineup every day.

Crawford, meanwhile, was playing at high-Class A, hitting .322/.412/.593 in 69 plate appearances. He spent the bulk of 2010 with Double-A, hitting .241/.337/.375 and started the 2011 season with a broken finger. The corresponding move for Crawford is not yet known, but it is likely Fontenot to the DL. He'll be the infield backup, with Emmanuel Burriss likely slotting in at shortstop if they don't move Tejada back to short.

Assuming Posey is out for a long time, if not the rest of the season, the Giants may want to call up ex-Giant Bengie Molina, who was with San Francisco from 2007 until partway through last season, when he was moved to the Rangers and faced the Giants in the World Series. Molina, a free agent, has been waiting for both the right fit and price before playing again. He may have just found it.

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Posted on: May 8, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Scutaro out 'a while,' Iglesias' role defined

By Matt Snyder

The promotion of light-hitting yet slick-fielding prospect Jose Iglesias makes a lot more sense Sunday morning, as Marco Scutaro has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters Scutaro is going to miss a good amount of time with an oblique injury (what else, right?).

“He’s over getting get an MRI,” Francona said. “His left oblique had been a little tender for a few days and after the rain delay [Saturday] he went back out, and I don’t know the exact incident, it started grabbing at him, and actually started grabbing at him pretty good. Even knowing the MRI wasn’t going to be till this morning, we know he’s going to be down for a while with his symptoms so we got Iglesias here.” (WEEI.com )

Don't expect to see Iglesias used as a regular, though. He's the backup to Jed Lowrie at shortstop and Francona has said he's only planning on using Iglesias as a late-inning defensive replacement or a pinch-runner. With good reason, because Iglesias is hitting .253 with zero extra base hits and a .278 OBP in Triple-A.

“I think we all think he’s got a bright future here,” Francona said. “I don’t think right now is his time to be our starting shortstop.” (Clubhouse Insider )

In other news, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Red Sox have contacted Bengie Molina, but aren't yet ready to make a strong push. The reason is simple, they are not getting much from the behind the plate. Jason Varitek works well with the pitching staff, but he's one of the worst hitters in the majors at this point. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was supposed to take over catching duties this season, but he has been suspect defensively and hasn't been much better than Varitek at the plate (.203/.247/.275). The Red Sox seem to be constantly looking for ways to improve their catching situation, but there just isn't much out there at this point. Things should change when it gets closer to the trade deadline (a Ryan Doumit, perhaps?), but for now it appears they're stuck hoping Salty starts swinging the bat.

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 10:42 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 10:45 pm
 

Red Sox have two-week leash on Saltalamacchia

Saltalamacchia

By Evan Brunell

The Red Sox could make a change at catcher in the coming weeks, as Peter Gammons reports on WEEI, noting that "this is an issue that in the next two weeks is going to be addressed, and I don't know which direction it's going."

Incumbent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, once thought to have a leash until June, instead could be on the way out after a thoroughly uninspiring start to the year. Salty has an inaccurate arm and has looked lost at the plate by striking out 13 times in 39 plate appearances with a low .194/.256/.222 line. That's simply awful, and while it's only 39 plate appearances, he's looked so far away from the pedigree that made him a former first-round pick that he's already started losing copious amounts of playing time to Jason Varitek. The captain has started five of the last nine games -- this after Salty kicked the year off with seven of eight appearances.

"He’s such a good guy. He cares so much. He tries so hard," Gammons said. "[But] you just can’t have this on a championship team, especially when a big part of that championship team is built around power pitchers who are in a couple of cases struggling for their identity. I would be shocked now if Varitek doesn’t catch [Josh] Beckett all the time now. Clearly, they’ve made the decision that he’s going to catch [Daisuke] Matsuzaka, whose earned run average is massively different with Varitek catching. But I don’t think they can afford to let Jason go out and try to catch 120, 130 games."

Part of the problem is that the performances of pitchers with Salty starting are terrible, with a 7.16 ERA for pitchers with the 26-year-old behind the plate. 'Tek, meanwhile, is at 2.40. It's far too early to consider whether that's an actual issue or dumb luck as the sample size is simply too small. But the fact that Varitek has already become the personal catcher for two starting pitchers is not promising. That said, it remains in Boston's best interest to develop Saltalamacchia. With the Red Sox finally winning and the pressure off searching for quick fix solutions, Salty will get a fair number of at-bats in the next couple of weeks to prove Boston's adamant belief that he can be an impact hitter.

What happens if he can't, though? What happens if Boston decides to move on from Salty? Who can replace him?

It can't be Varitek, who has proven at this point in his career he is no longer capable of starting full-time. But who else is out there?

Internally, Luis Exposito and Michael McKenry (acquired from the Rockies in late March) are splitting time at Triple-A. While McKenry is an intriguing name, he is off to a slow start and in a new organization. Exposito, meanwhile, could end up a starting catcher in the majors but the 24-year-old is struggling himself in his first crack at Triple-A.

Gammons names Tim Federowicz as a possibility, as the Double-A catcher is "the best catch-and-throw guy in the organization." Certainly, if a move was to be made, the Sox would go defense over offense so Federowicz is a real possibility -- a better one than Ryan Lavarnway, a catcher in name only who is DHing as Federowciz's teammate.

How about externally? Boston certainly has the trade pieces to strike for a catcher, as they could dangle outfielder Mike Cameron, infielders Jed Lowrie or Marco Scutaro (likely the latter) and prospects such as Yamaico Navarro, Oscar Tejeda, Kyle Weiland, Lars Anderson ... no, finding chips to deal won't be an issue. Finding someone to deal for is. The best available name is Ivan Rodriguez, who is frozen out in Washington. But there's a reason I-Rod is available: he's no longer a legitimate starter as his bat has abandoned him in his chase for 3,000 hits. Gammons also believes Rodriguez would struggle with the pitching staff in Boston even if he has an impeccable defensive reputation.

Other than that ... umm ...

"If there was somebody available who they thought was really good defensively, I think they would immediately jump and do something. I don’t see that catcher," said Gammons. "I’ve gone through lists everywhere trying to figure out who could possibly be available. I just don’t see anybody good. There are guys out there who are OK backups."

And "OK backups" won't fly for the Red Sox. Oh, sure, the Red Sox could entice Bengie Molina out of retirement, but Molina's an aging catcher whose lost all value in his bat and would need a few weeks, at minimum, to get into playing shape.

Bottom line: there isn't much out there.

When push comes to shove, even if the Red Sox believe Salty's leash is only there for two more weeks, they may not have much choice in extending that leash.

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Posted on: April 16, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Pepper: Harper in the spotlight

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Bryce HarperWhat did you do with your days off?

Me, I did what many of you probably did, went to a baseball game. I drove about an hour to go see Bryce Harper play. I was planning on going Monday, but the game was rained out and then I had an off day on Thursday, the last of a four-game series against the Lexington Legends.

On Wednesday, I got a text from a friend that said he just saw Harper's first professional home run. I did not. I did see a double and nearly saw his first fight.

After walking in the third inning, Harper was picked off third and with no chance to score or get out of it, he decided his best chance was to bowl over the catcher, Chris Wallace.

Wallace barely budged, and then got up in Harper's face. Harper, though, just walked away as soon as the umpire got between them. Both benches were warned and nothing further happened.

Harper's going to be a marked man every place he goes this year, that's part of the minor leagues. In the minor leagues you have someone very close yelling very loudly while very drunk. Harper didn't react, and that's for the best. He'll be the target for fans and players. Every pitcher will be giving him their best, every catcher will welcome a play at the plate, and everything Harper does will be magnified.

On Thursday, Harper did the smart thing and walked away. That's not to say he didn't get yelled at by drunk frat boys in the stands, but he was smart. He gains nothing by getting in a fight there, while Wallace could make his name by taking on the millionaire and most famous player in the minor leagues.

I wanted to talk to Harper about that and what it's liked being a marked man -- something he's definitely going to because of the money, his fame and the perceived arrogance (and it'd be fair to say I heard that word used several times on Thursday from folks around the ballpark). But despite the Nationals asking visiting teams to set up a press conference-type table with backdrop for Harper to deal with every night, he declined on Thursday. I'm not upset, I've been stood up by better, but I wish he would have told me earlier. Instead, I waited an hour to be blown off.

That said, I've got to give him some serious credit, as I waited for his whim, he signed autographs and posed for pictures for each of the nearly 50 people waiting by the team's bus. It's certainly going to be an interesting year for a kid who just turned 18 -- I can say I saw him when… Just like I knew I could when I went to see Gregg Jefferies back in the day when he was the top prospect in baseball.

Also, Evan posted this the other day, but here's some video I took (and the picture is from my hipster iPhone app, Instagram -- I'm ctrosecrans, if you're into that kind of thing):

Harper made his home debut on Friday, and the Washington Post's Dave Sheinin was there to see him go 0 for 3. He's now hitting .226 and I was there for his first pro double, if not the homer.

ANOTHER DOUBLEHEADER -- The Brewers and Nationals have already been rained out today and will play a doubleheader tomorrow. [MLB.com]

YOUNG TO DL -- Chris Young is headed back to the disabled list. The Mets placed the right-hander on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 11, with right biceps tendonitis. The Mets called up lefty Pat Misch. Misch has started one game for Triple-A Buffalo. The team needs a starter for Sunday.

CATCHER NEEDED -- Could Bengie Molina be a fit for the Twins with Joe Mauer on the DL? Another possibility would be Ivan Rodriguez. [St. Paul Pioneer Press]

LUDWICK STRUGGLING -- Many people -- myself included -- killed John Mozeliak for trading away Ryan Ludwick last season to get Jake Westbrook. So far, Mozeliak has looked good as Ludwick has looked bad. Ludwick is hitting .194/.296/.325 since joining the Padres. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

CHAPMAN OK -- Aroldis Chapman says he's feeling fine. His lack of velocity was just from throwing a couple of days in a row. When I talked to Walt Jocketty on Thursday, he said Chapman should be fine to pitch on Sunday. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

SMALL CROWDS -- There are plenty of good seats available at Houston's Minute Maid Parik. [Houston Chronicle]

NO APOLOGY NEEDED -- Cubs manager Mike Quade said he appreciated Carlos Zambrano's apology, but it wasn't needed. Zambrano left the mound before Quade got there when he went to the mound to take him out of Wednesday's game in Houston. [Chicago Sun-Times]

GROUNDSKEEPER OK -- We all saw the YouTube video of the groundskeeper at Kauffman Stadium get run over last week. Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan caught up with Trevor Hogan, who said he wouldn't recommend getting caught under a rolling tarp, but he's fine.

MASCOT INJURY -- In Japan, Carrrasco, the mascot for the Rakuten Eagles injured his leg during a game and had to be rushed to the hospital where he needed surgery. He could miss the entire season. [Yakyu Baka]

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Posted on: March 20, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:48 am
 

Pepper: Collins to dial down intensity

Collins

By Evan Brunell

TIME TO LOOSEN UP: Terry Collins is well aware of his reputation as a no-nonsense manager whose intensity lost the respect of his players when he helmed the Astros and Angels.

However, to hear Collins tell it, he realizes where he went wrong and wants to make changes.

 

"I’ve thought about it a lot," he said. "I took it way too serious. Even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it. It was all about the winning, winning, winning, instead of enjoying being around these guys and watching them play, enjoying the experience and the challenge of competing. That’s what I love to do.

"There was that thing that I had to prove something. I still want to prove that we’re good enough, but I don’t think it’s the same type of attitude I had in the past. And with that comes the fact that these guys are human beings, and they need communication."

Collins plans to have the Mets play aggressively, as his Angels did -- which still continues to this day under manager Mike Scioscia. He also places a premium on players aspiring to be great and staying focused, which sounds a lot like the old Collins, but the skipper knows that.

"Hopefully, the energy -- or whatever people want to say, the intenseness that I have -- may work here," Collins said. (New York Times)

 

IZZY COULD SET UP: Jason Isringhausen was once one of the Mets' most heralded pitching prospects before injuries completely wrecked his early years. He was later moved to Oakland and became a closer, famous for his time in St. Louis. Now, after missing most of the last two years, Izzy appears poised to set up closer Francisco Rodriguez back in New York. (New York Post)

IT'LL BE PUDGE: After a brief skirmish among Nationals reporters as to the state of the catching, it appears Ivan Rodriguez will certainly start Opening Day for Washington -- but Wilson Ramos figures to get the bulk of work behind the plate in short order. (Washington Post)

NO MORE GUYS: Five Guys is a weakness of Evan's, and it will no longer taunt him in Nationals Park, as the burger chain has opted not to renew its lease despite being one of the more popular options for customers. (Eater.com)

SILVA'S SPOT IN DANGER: Carlos Silva has had a beyond-awful spring training and although he's slated to take the bump once more next Wednesday, that may not happen. Manager Mike Quade and GM Jim Hendry are expected to sit down and make some touch decisions prior to then. It's entirely feasible that Silva will be put out of the running for the No. 5 starter's spot at that time. (Chicago Sun-Times)

GOOD NEWS FOR BREW CREW: Milwaukee already has enough problems figuring out who will replace Zack Greinke in the rotation, so bad news regarding Shaun Marcum is not ideal. However, the righty believes while he may have to skip a start in spring training, he will be on track for the regular season. (MLB.com)

THE NATURAL: Ken Griffey, Jr.'s talent on the field sometimes evoked comparisons to the immortal Ray Hobbs, but who knew that Griffey had untapped potential? Griffey stopped by the Mariners' broadcast booth for five innings Friday and drew rave reviews. (MLB.com)

BENGIE WANTS TO PLAY: Don't call Bengie Molina retired, brother Jose of the Blue Jays says. Rather, Molina isn't interested in playing unless any contract he signs "shows him sufficient respect." Is it just me, or is an offer to extend your career and haul in at least another half-million plenty of respect to give? (FOX Sports)

INCREMENTAL PROGRESS: The Yankees haven't made formal who the Nos. 4 and 5 starters will be (bank on Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia) but now we know who is following CC Sabathia on the mound: A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, respectively. (New York Post)

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