ST. LOUIS — Catcher Yadier Molina thought before the 2011 season that his brother Bengie was going to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals to be his backup.
Two years later, they finally will get the opportunity to put on the same uniform.
After a deal fell through before the 2011 season to have Bengie join the Cardinals as a player, the eldest Molina brother has joined the club as its assistant hitting coach. And Yadier couldn’t be happier.
“They were pretty close to signing Bengie,” Yadier said Monday. “I don’t know what happened; they decided not to. But I’m happy to have him this year. I would have loved to play with him as a backup or something, but it is what it is and he’s on our side as a coach and I can’t wait.”
Bengie told FOXSportsMidwest.com during the 2011 World Series that he thought a deal to join the Cardinals the previous winter was essentially done. He recalled an emotional story about thinking he would finally get to play with Yadier after previously playing with their brother Jose.
“That night, I started crying for my dad and I said, ‘Man I’m going to play with my brother,” Bengie said at the time. “I went out and bought a Cardinals hat. I was very excited.”
He eventually retired when the right offer didn’t come his way, and he spent the past two seasons traveling to see Yadier play with the Cardinals and Jose with Toronto in 2011 and Tampa Bay in 2012.
Bengie and Jose were Angels teammates from 2001-05, but younger brother Yadier has yet to have the opportunity to share teams with either of his brothers. Until now.
“It’s going to be great for me, my family, for my mom, for everybody in Puerto Rico,” Yadier said. “It’s going to be great. They are happy, and I can’t wait. I can’t wait to have him on my side and be with me the whole season through the World Series. It’s going to be fun.
“Bengie is a great, great guy to have on your side. It’s going to be awesome. He knows about hitting, too. He has experience so it’s going to be a good help for our team.”
He has no coaching experience but hit .274 during a 13-year big-league career with the Angels, Blue Jays, Giants and Rangers. Now 38, Molina never walked more than 27 times in a season but never struck out more than 68.
“He wasn’t a power hitter,” Yadier said. “He’s more like using the gaps kind of hitter. That’s good teaching. That’s what you want to teach your kids, to use the gap. I feel he’ll bring that to our team. Instead of pulling the ball and trying to hit homers, we’ll concentrate on using the gap.
“He was a hard-working guy. He worked hard, and he taught me a lot about that, to prepare yourself during the offseason so you can have a good season.”
Yadier enjoyed the best season of his career in 2012, establishing career highs with a .315 batting average, 22 home runs, 76 RBI and 65 runs scored. He also had a career-high 12 stolen bases despite not being the fastest runner on the team. He has made four consecutive All-Star appearances and has won five straight Gold Gloves.
Although Yadier already has put together an impressive career, it appears finally getting the chance to share the same clubhouse as his brother will go down as one of the highlights.
“I can’t wait for you to meet Bengie,” Molina said. “He’s a smart guy and he knows baseball. Every aspect, he knows about defense, he knows about hitting. I don’t know (if he knows) about running, but I can teach him. He is a great guy to have on your side because he knows everything about baseball.”