Bengie Molina retired for now, will consider comeback

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Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reported earlier this month that the Padres were looking into signing catcher Bengie Molina to serve as a backup to Nick Hundley but found the veteran free agent to be in “retirement mode.”

He remains in that “mode.”

Molina told Kevin Davidoff of Newsday this weekend that he has not yet filed retirement papers and is open to returning if the right situation were to present itself, but also that playing baseball is not something he is thinking about right now.

Molina has a wife and three daughters who have seen him only sparingly over the past 13-plus years.

“A lot of my teammates and friends want me to come back,” Molina said. “I love the game. It gave me life … I wish I could be playing right now. But I’ve got other priorities right now. It could be how Pedro [Martinez] did it halfway through (2009), something like that. It’s not like I’m planning on doing that. If it comes up, and I’m ready to go, I’ll do it.”

Molina, 37 in July, batted just .249 with a .297 on-base percentage and five home runs across 118 games last season. He did, however, slug 20 home runs in 2009 for San Francisco.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.