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Molina Taking Double-A Demotion in Stride

By Jed Weisberger ~ April 6th, 2012. Filed under: Digest Contributors, New York Yankees, Yanks Minors.

TRENTON, N.J. – At age 30, the last place catcher Gustavo Molina figured he would be arranging his locker is in the clubhouse of the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate.

A veteran of 26 major-league games over five seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Mets, Boston, Baltimore and the Yankees – just 6-for-47 (.128) in The Show, Molina could have groused about this.

But he’s not.

“Things like this happen at the end of spring training,’’ Molina said Thursday night. “If this where I am supposed to play baseball, this is where I’ll play.’’

Spring training could have gone a bit better for Molina. A few weeks ago, Ivan Nova, during his personal battle to nail down a starting-rotation position, threw Molina under the bus, accusing him of poor communication.

Even that has not bothered Molina, who will share time with Jose Gil while he is with the Thunder.

“I talked to Gustavo,’’ said Thunder manager Tony Franklin, who began his sixth season in Trenton with a 5-3 loss to New Hampshire. “He’s OK with this. He’s a professional, and he is certainly looking at it that way.’’

Molina, while he is in Trenton, will work with the Thunder pitching staff and contribute any way he can.

“Right now, this is where I am supposed to be,’’ he said. “I’ll do what I have to.’’

Molina is in Trenton because Francisco Cervelli, the Yankees’ capable backup the last three seasons is with the vagabond Triple-A Empire State Yankees.  Cervelli has told reporters he not enamored with the move, which was made because he both has options remaining and he can handle the Triple-A pitching staff with Austin Romine sidelined with a back injury.

Cervelli will play every day while he is with Empire State.

This all came on the heels of a trade that sent reliever George Kontos to San Francisco in exchange for light-hitting backup catcher Chris Stewart.  But when one looks below the surface here, Stewart, who is backing up Russell Martin with the Yankees, is out of options. Romine’s injury left a need at Triple-A.

In giving up Kontos, a Northwestern University product, the Yankees surrendered an oft-injured hurler whose command and control was not always the best.  Righty David Phelps, who came north with the Yankees, can fill the role Kontos was aiming for in solid fashion.

Stewart, a solid defensive backstop, who played in one game for the Yankees in 2008, has appeared in 93 big-league games with a .200 (42-for-210) average.  Pitchers like throwing to him.

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out when Romine returns.  What roles will Cervelli, Molina and Stewart fill then in the Yankees’ system with both J.R. Murphy, if he remains a catcher, and Gary Sanchez lurking in the lower minors?

Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.
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