Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

New Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Molina hopes to be ready for everyday duty

ST. PETERSBURG — Jose Molina doesn't know, either.

The Rays' 36-year-old free-agent addition is in line to be the frontline catcher for the first time in his 12-season big-league career, and he has the same question everyone else has, uncertain of how many games he can play.

"Nobody knows," Molina said. "I'm not thinking about catching 50 games, I'm thinking about catching 100, 120, 140, whatever it takes. I know that will probably be hard, but if I don't put my head into that goal, then when it comes up I'll be lost."

Molina's most active season was 2008, when he started 81 games, and played in 97, for the Yankees. In the past three seasons, he has averaged 46 starts, but with only inexperienced potential partners (Jose Lobaton, Robinson Chirinos), the Rays are banking on more.

Molina said he welcomes the challenge and is getting good counsel, training during the winter with younger brother Yadier, the Cardinals' three-time All-Star.

"I've never played every day," Jose Molina said. "But for sure I'll tell you something, I'll be ready. The way I worked out this year and I trained with my little brother and I was asking a lot of questions regarding what he's been able to do to catch every day, and that helps a lot."

CROWD CONTROL: The crowd formed early for Saturday's FanFest at Tropicana Field, with the Rays estimating a total of 25,000, up several thousand from last year.

Principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who flew in from New York Saturday morning for the event, was pleased with the turnout. "What could be better than this; I'm smiling ear to ear," he said. "These are always great and each one you can say is better than the last, but there's a real sense of optimism."

The event raised about $100,000 for the Rays Baseball and ALS foundations.

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