Angels’ Soto credits Molina for better defense

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Bengie Molina and Jose Molina are both at Angels camp this week, with Bengie serving as a special guest instructor and Jose early in his tenure as the organization’s new catching coordinator. There’s also another Molina sibling roaming around.

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His name is .

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“They call me the fourth Molina discount mlb jerseys brother,” Soto said.

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The other, of course, is Yadier Molina, a seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner heading into his 13th season with the Cardinals. Soto and Molina, both 33 years old, played against one another in Puerto Rico from the age of 14 and have always been close.

A couple of offseasons ago, Soto reached out to see if he could spend a winter training with Molina.

“He welcomed me with open arms,” Soto said. “It was surprising how humble and how great he was with me, even though I played against him for five years in the [Cubs-Cardinals] rivalry. He loves to work. He’s a maniac. He’s got a great work ethic, and I really took a lot from that session.” Gonzalez on Angels’ 2016 outlook Angels storylines heading into the 2016 seasonAlden Gonzalez discusses the Angels’ outlook for the 2016 season including and their pitching rotation

Since his standout rookie season with the Cubs in 2008, Soto has thrown out 27.4 percent of would-be basestealers, the fourth-best mark among catchers who have played in at least 700 games during that span. Only , Russell Martin and, of course, Molina have done better.

In the winter that followed the 2013 season, Molina shared tips with Soto on how to shave milliseconds between the time when he receives a pitch to when the baseball reaches a middle infielder’s glove. He taught him how to receive pitches with his momentum going towards second base, how to balance himself upon exploding upwards and how to keep his weight back so the ball comes out firmer.

Since those fateful sessions, Soto’s caught-stealing rate has improved to 35.9 percent over the last couple of years.

“He really taught me a lot of stuff, a lot of insight on catching, kind of street-smart stuff, things that can help me — how to cheat, how to take that extra time off the clock when you’re throwing down to second,” Soto said. “Just things you have to work on, small things, that will get you better along the way.”

Worth noting

• Albert Pujols Jerseys (right foot) has been taking part in all the defensive drills, though he hasn’t done as much of it as the others, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he’s “unrestricted about everything he can do. We’re just monitoring it a little bit so he can kind of step up to his own level.”

• MLB Network ranked the top 100 players in the game today and named No. 1. Pujols was ranked 83rd and finished 91st. Nos. 2-5, respectively, were: Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen and Josh Donaldson. The full list can be viewed here.

• Scioscia was slated to meet with Major League Baseball officials on Friday afternoon to get some clarity on the new rules that were recently announced, focusing on pace of play and double plays.

“We have some questions,” Scioscia said. “We’ll see how it works out.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Share This Email Print + Hide Comments

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