Former major league catcher Bengie Molina had planned to travel in 2013, with Alaska and Europe among his potential destinations. His travel schedule will be modified, though, as he will be touring such places as Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Milwaukee in his new capacity as the St. Louis Cardinals' assistant coach.
Some years ago, former manager Tony La Russa installed Mike Aldrete as an assistant hitting coach, working first with hitting coach Hal McRae and later McRae's replacement, Mark McGwire. When McGwire left for the Dodgers after last season, John Mabry, who had been in his first year as assistant hitting coach, was promoted to batting coach, and Molina, older brother to Cardinals All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, was hired to aid Mabry.
"We had so many plans for next year," Bengie Molina said. "The coaching part was always in my brain. I wanted to go back, but not too quick. Three years, maybe five ... But this could be a great opportunity, and who knows when another chance like it will be there?"
Molina, a two-time Gold Glove winner, last played in 2010, when he performed for both World Series teams that year -- San Francisco and Texas.
When Cardinals manager Mike Matheny discussed candidates for the vacant spot on his coaching staff, Yadier mentioned Bengie might be open to returning to baseball.
"Never ever did I think of being an assistant hitting coach, never in my life," Bengie Molina said. "I thought maybe it would be as a catching instructor, maybe in the minors, or a bench coach, a bullpen coach, something like that. Being an assistant hitting coach wasn't in my plans. But it makes sense."
Molina was a .274 hitter in his career with five seasons of at least 15 homers and three of 80 RBI or more.
"Obviously, if you've caught before, it's going make you better aware of how they're going to pitch to you," Molina said. "You're going to have that advantage.
"The pitchers change. The catcher is the only guy who faces everybody. He's the only one who is watching everything."