It hasn’t even been six months since Yadier Molina decided to hang up in October 2022, after the Cardinals lost to the Phillies in the National League Wild Card Series. But the Puerto Rican has more experience than many player managers who have tried to walk that path.
A few days, after completing the career that could take him in the Hall of Fame, Molina was in charge of the Navegantes del Magallanes, a team from the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, to start a new chapter in his baseball career, now as manager.
Although his time in Venezuela had some ups and downs, including a two-game suspension from the league and several expulsions for suspensions, the Navigators managed to qualify for their season, adding a 29-27 record during the regular season. Then, they fell just short of reaching the final, losing in the last three round robin matches.
Obviously, Molina wanted to end his first experience as a pilot by winning the Magallanes title, but in the end, his goal far exceeds the results in Venezuela. That was always the plan.
“It was Molina,” said Molina, who coached in Venezuela before the Classic. “I didn’t know what I was going to find, but they were so good. Some real estate schools. Many people have helped me a lot. It is something that has added to my life. I learned a lot. Clearly, in my opinion, it was the best decision for my life.
Although this was his first experience as a manager in the Clásico, Molina’s life with the Puerto Rican team was not short in this event. The receiver, a native of Bayamon, participated in the 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017 versions, becoming the only player in the history of the event named to the All WBC Team, also reaching the last two versions, which Puerto Rico lost to the Dominican Republic and the United States respectively.
But now, as the third governor in the history of Puerto Rico – José Oquendo directed in the 2006 and 2009 editions, and Edwin Rodríguez did the same in 2013 and 2017 – Molina knows that the mission is different, with him now in command.
It came when it happened in Venezuela.
“It’s completely different,” Molina said. “Two different things are ready. I experienced there in Venezuela and I have the help of some great coaches here with me. I listen to them a lot and we learn every day.”
That very humble attitude made Molina one of the best catchers of his generation, and probably in the history of the game.
Despite the fact that his career started with everyone, the Puerto Rican still has a long way to go, getting closer to nine Gold Gloves, four Platinum Gloves, 10 calls to the All-Star Game, one Silver Slugger, and two titles. The World Series and the countless milestones he accomplished over 19 seasons keeping the Cardinals home plate.
But Molina, for now at least, seems to be on the right track.