Molina is all smiles

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bengie Molina knew he was going to be a one-year wonder with the Blue Jays.

"They showed me in 2006 that they liked Gregg Zaun more than me," the new San Francisco Giants catcher said as he and everyone else awaited the arrival of Barry Bonds to camp.

"They knew Zaun from before, I felt (manager) John Gibbons liked him better," Molina said. "Why not, they were set to open the season with Zaun. I signed a week before camp opened."

Looking at the numbers, Molina started 98 games, catching 842 innings, while Zaun started 59 games and caught 541 innings. Not exactly a sign of dislike.

"Don't get me wrong, they played me, but it wasn't what I'm used to," Molina said. Like beauty, "what I'm used to" is in the eye of the beholder.

Molina started 100 games in 2005 with the Los Angeles Angels, 89 in 2004, 109 in 2003 and 114 when the Angels won the World Series in 2002.

Molina says his most memorable moment with the Jays came opening night when he hooked a two-run, fourth-inning homer down the left-field line at Roger Centre before 50,449 fans.

"To homer off a Cy Young award winner (Twins' Johan Santana) in front of all those people was special," Molina said. "My worst time with the Jays? Any time I didn't play. Sitting for more than one day was difficult."

Molina hit .284 with 19 homers and 57 RBIs playing in 117 games for the Jays. The catcher has kept track of his old team.

"All they seem to be talking about is their starting pitching," Molina said. "They really need for their setup men, like Brandon League and Jeremy Accardo, to step up. That's what they need to compete."

Molina is looking forward to playing with Bonds, who enters the season 22 homers away from breaking Hank Aaron's record.

"He's only the best player in the game," Molina said.

We'll check back with Molina later in the season when he has been on the same club with Bonds to see how much fun it is.

FILL YOUR HAT

Have the Jays ever gone into June looking at this kind of a draft bonanza? Due to free-agent departures the Jays have seven selections in the first 88 picks.

Although the order could shuffle since two compensation free agents remain unsigned, the drafting order looks like this for the June draft:

The Jays have two picks in the first round: 16th (as compensation for the Texas Rangers signing Frank Catalanotto) and 21st, their own pick.

In the sandwich round, between the first and third, the Jays get three more: 38th pick (for Justin Speier signing with the Angels), 45th (further Catalanotto compensation) and 56th (for the Cubs signing Ted Lilly).

The Jays get two more in the second round: Their own at 85th and another at 88th (further compensation for Speier).

Rival scouts say Jays scouts admit to have being told to hunt for high schoolers. At this early stage, the 2007 draft is considered a weak college class by many.

J.P. Ricciaridi's first five drafts produced 10 players who have made the majors led by second Aaron Hill and Adam Lind, although his playing time will be cut by the signing of free-agent Frank Thomas.

The others: Shawn Marcum, Casey Janssen, Russ Adams, Ryan Roberts and Adam Peterson, who made it with the Jays; David Bush and Zach Jackson, sent to Milwaukee for Lyle Overbay and Tom Mastny dealt to the Cleveland for John McDonald.

FAREWELL

Joan Clarke, an "Irish corker" with a baseball-shaped heart, passed away on the weekend. Her son Adam, a strike machine, pitched for Erin Mills and at Graceland University in Iowa. Adam is the new manager of the Brantford Red Sox, Intercounty League defending champs.

Her husband Fred, a former Mississauga coach, requests donations be made to the London Health Centre for Cancer. The viewing will be tonight at the Westview Funeral Chapel in London. The service will be tomorrow morning at 11.


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