Molina has insider's view of opponents
Catcher prepares for Angels' aggressive baserunning
NEW YORK -- Jose Molina tried not to have any expectations the day he walked into the home clubhouse across the street at the old Yankee Stadium, still carrying a red canvas bag emblazoned with the Angels' "A" and its golden halo.
Yet he had heard comments from the outside looking in, wondering whether the stories about a coldly corporate clubhouse atmosphere were true. They weren't in July 2007, when Molina was shipped to New York by the Angels, and they are even less true today.
"At the beginning, when I got traded here, I never expected this team would be the way they were," Molina said. "They're really close with each other. From outside, you can say a lot of bad things about it. But when you're in here, you realize what a team is about."
Molina said his Yankees teammates "received me really well here," and the club's hurlers -- particularly A.J. Burnett, who seems to have stuck with Molina as his personal catcher recently -- would say the same about him.
Parts of seven seasons in an Angels uniform prepared Molina for his role as a trusted defensive understudy to starting catcher Jorge Posada. Although Molina can't offer Posada's power, he just might have a few useful notes to share on how Angels manager Mike Scioscia plans to attack the American League Championship Series.
"I've been there on that team for many years, knowing a couple of guys there and Scioscia for a long time," Molina said. "I know they want to run. That's the only thing I'd say, as a catcher, you want to know. You just get ready for that, and try to tell everyone else the same. When they're ready to run, they'll run. They'll go first to third, put pressure, and you'd better be ready."
Yet if Molina still has any leftovers good for sign stealing or pitch tendencies, he isn't tipping his hand.
"No," he said, shaking his head. "And if I did, I wouldn't tell you anyway."
Not that Molina -- possibly the slowest runner on New York's 25-man roster -- could use it much, but he knew that Scioscia's Angels would be OK with running into outs as long as there was a decent chance of creating a run.
"He's one of the guys that always says, if you make a mistake being aggressive, he doesn't mind," Molina said. "It gives you confidence. You can go and be aggressive, and it doesn't matter. You can do it again, and that's what that team does."
Molina said he still has friends in the vicinity of Angel Stadium and has fun when the Yankees head back there to play. But he feels no part of his heart tugging for the Angels anymore, not during the regular season and especially not now.
"No chance," Molina said, laughing.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.