Bengie the best

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

Bengie Molina has a new mantle: Best Blue Jays Catcher Ever.

Has a nice ring, doesn't it?

I'll say it again ... Best Blue Jays Catcher Ever.

I know it seems a little extreme based on one game. Maybe we should give this thing a while to settle. Say a week.

But before we do, consider a two-run, 400-foot home run last night off the Twins' Johan Santana that broke a 1-1 tie and scratched the enamel off the 2004 Cy Young winner.

And there was a short-lived "Bengie-Bengie" chant afterward.

"Haven't heard one of those in a while," said John Gibbons, the Jays puckish manager.

Aaron Hill stepped into the box before Santana could clear the dugout. They'll have time to work it out.

The list of Blue Jays catchers that starts on that snowy April day 30 years ago reads as follows: Rick Cerone, Alan Ashby, Ernie Whitt, Buck Martinez, Greg Myers, Pat Borders, Lance Parrish, Sandy Martinez, Benito Santiago, Darrin Fletcher, Ken Huckaby, Kevin Cash, Gregg Zaun, and Molina.

Santiago and Parrish were terrific players who were on the downslope when they arrived here.

Yes, they were great players, just not great players here, although Santiago did hit 13 homers one year.

PLATOON

The rest were platoon players, journeymen and surehanded veterans. Whitt was strictly a platoon guy who posted very good numbers against righties but he didn't have Molina's arm.

Secondly, Molina, whose first name is Benjamin and who was born in Puerto Rico, is the only Jays catcher whose DNA is so prime that two brothers, Jose (Angels) and Yadier (St. Louis) are also major- league catchers.

He doesn't carry them around, but Bengie Molina owns two Gold Gloves. He has hit 61 homers in the majors.

While he was unable to retire a single base-runner in the spring and didn't have a chance last night, the consensus seems to be he still knows how. So best ever?

Just don't tell Bengie.

"I don't think about that," he said. "I don't look at the numbers. I just think about doing the little things, winning something here by doing the little things. The little things matter when where everybody puts everything together."

Molina says he just wants to win. The homer helped and the 6-3 win helped.

"It was a wonderful feeling because we won the game," he said. "I'm not big on personal goals but I think about winning the game and that's what we did."

From a coldly logical point of view, Molina is a godsend. It's not just that he is the best Blue Jays Catcher Ever (now I'm using the subliminal stuff on you).

He is just 31 and he injects a credibility the way he manages pitchers and works umpires. You have to admit, a guy with a personality like Don Knotts wouldn't command the same respect.

Molina is, for a player of his stature, an absurd bargain. He is on a two-year deal for $5 million US the first season and, should the two parties agree, $7.5 the second.

There also is the not-incidental matter of being snubbed by his old team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before he arrived here to play the Toronto Blue Jays of Ontario.

Angels' property since he was 17, Molina was not tended an offer during the arbitration and while players often agree that this whole construct is a business, those dollar bills can still cut.

Molina, who played in Vancouver and Edmonton while working up the major-league ladder, says he has moved on.

"I don't have time to think about what happened," he said, genially.

"It was Dec. 7 when they didn't offer me. That was a long time ago."

It only took one night to make it seem a whole lot longer.

All things are possible when you're the best Blue Jays Catcher Ever.


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