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Molina worth picking for Final Vote
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07/06/2003  6:44 PM ET 
Molina worth picking for Final Vote
Angels catcher having great year on offense, defense
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Bengie Molina has thrown out 18 of 46 would-be base stealers, second in the AL. (Paul Connors/AP)
  • Cast your ballot in the etopps All-Star Final Vote
    Vote Molina: 56k | 300k

    OAKLAND -- Bengie Molina has said all year that he doesn't think about possibly making the All-Star team -- he's all about helping his team win games and everything else that comes out of it is secondary.

    On Sunday, Molina will have to think about it a little bit because he was named one of five American League finalists for the etopps All-Star Final Vote, joining Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees, Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox, Eric Byrnes of the Oakland A's and Jason Varitek of the Boston Red Sox.

    Players were nominated by 2003 All-Star Game managers Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia in conjunction with Major League Baseball. Fans can vote here at www.angelsbaseball.com or MLB.com, and can select one player for each league. The etopps All-Star Final Vote ends on Wednesday, July 9, at 6 p.m. ET. Winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.

    It might be a tough road to win the final spot in this vaunted company, but it's doubly tough to dispute the fact that he is having an All-Star-caliber season.

    2003 All-Star Game

    2003 All-Star Game information >

    The Angels catcher entered Sunday's game against Oakland with a .289 batting average, eight homers (after hitting seven all of last year) and 44 RBIs (47 last year).

    He's also continued the solid defense behind the plate that led to a Gold Glove and a World Series ring in 2002. Going into Sunday, Molina had thrown out 13 of his last 26 would-be base stealers and 18 of 46 on the season, second in the AL.

    Molina, a 28-year-old native of Puerto Rico in his fourth full big-league season, has been the anchor of the Angels' championship rotation and has proven to be their best clutch hitter this year.

    Molina leads Angels starters with a .371 (23-for-62) batting average with runners in scoring position and has been on fire lately. He was 25-for-76 (.329) in June, raising his average from .267 to .290.

    If you ask Angels manager Scioscia, a former two-time All-Star catcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Molina's candidacy is without question.

    "He absolutely deserves to be considered," Scioscia said. "He's having a fantastic offensive year, and you can't always weigh what he does on the offensive side. What he does with the staff and what he does behind the plate are incredibly valuable to the team."

    Molina has suffered from various ailments over his first three seasons, most of them hamstring-related, but he hired a personal trainer in the offseason after the Angels won the 2002 World Series.

    He reported to camp stronger and in better condition and said the results are showing on the field.

    "The thing that's very important for me is to stay in shape and be there for the team whenever they need me," Molina said. "That's the only thing -- that I'm healthy to help my club win games."

    That's why he humbly reiterates that he won't be upset if he doesn't make the final cut.

    "Do I ever want to be on the team?" Molina said. "Yes. But it's up to the fans. If they want me to be in the game, they'll pick me, and if they don't, they won't. I'll respect their decisions either way."

    Cast your ballot in the etopps All-Star Final Vote

    Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.




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