Notes: Molina out for title triple crown

Notes: Molina out for triple crown of titles

CAROLINA, P.R. -- Should the Carolina Giants capture the Caribbean Series title, it would mark a triple crown of sorts for Yadier Molina.

It's been a whirlwind for months for the Puerto Rican-born catcher.

Molina was behind the plate in the fall when the Cardinals claimed the World Series title. And his Winter League Carolina club won the Puerto Rican trophy.

Perhaps the clear-cut favorite now in the Caribbean Series, Molina is seeking a third ring.

"We've got a very good team," said Molina, who is splitting catching duties in the tournament with his brother, Jose. "We've got experienced and veteran guys. We've got a winning team, that's the main thing. We're ready."

Competing in the Series wasn't an issue for Molina, who is honored to be competing in his home park.

"I'm playing for my country. I feel great because my team won the championship here in Puerto Rico," he said. "It's a great feeling right now."

Last October, Molina made postseason history by connecting on the deciding home run to beat the Mets in the National League Championship Series.

The blast was met with mixed reviews in Puerto Rico. The Mets are popular on the island, featuring Puerto Rican natives Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran and Jose Valentin.

Still, there were plenty of Molina fans.

"I went to the mall and people said, 'Hey, I lost money because of you,'" Molina said with a smile. "But people were cheering for me. Sometimes when I went to the mall, people said, 'Hey, Yadier, you're the best.' It is great that people were watching."

Batista's options: After two games, Tony Batista has been the hero for the Dominican Republic. On Friday, belted a home run and delivered the sacrifice fly that sealed a win over Venezuela in the 18th inning.

For an encore, Batista had a pair of two-run homers, including an inside-the-parker, against Mexico. Batista crushed a two-run drive in the third inning, and in the fifth inning, he circled the bases on a disputed inside-the-park homer. Batista lined a hit over third base, and it rolled to the fence in left. Mexican outfielder Derek White contended the ball wedged under the padding of the left-field wall.

As White was appealing to the umpire, Batista sprinted around the bases. The home run stood.

The 33-year-old third baseman said Saturday that he has received Triple-A contract offers from three unspecified big league teams.

As of now, none of the clubs has extended a big-league invitation.

Batista played 50 games for Minnesota a year ago, batting .236 with five home runs and 21 RBIs.

Batista expects to make a decision on where he will sign after the Caribbean Series.

"There is still a lot of time to decide before Spring Training," Batista said. "The good Lord will provide."

Cedeno's first Series: Until the Dominican Republic rallied in the bottom of the 18th inning Friday, Venezuela's Ronny Cedeno was in line to be the hero.

In the top of the 18th, Cedeno pulled a run-scoring double down the third-base line, putting Venezuela ahead, 3-2. The lead was short lived as the Dominican Republic pulled out a 4-3 win with two runs in their half of the inning.

For Cedeno, an infielder with the Cubs, just being in Puerto Rico for this Caribbean Series is reason to rejoice.

"I'm happy here, this is my first year here, too," the middle infielder said. "We have a very good team, and we have very good pitchers. We're trying to get a championship here, too."

Venezuela is the defending champion, winning a year ago as the host country.

Cedeno is one of several current or former big leaguers in the tournament. The Cubs granted him permission to participate.

"I talked to the Cubs, and they told me I could go," he said. "This is good for me. I'm here with Venezuela right now. A lot of big leaguers do play here: Miguel Tejada, Jose Lima, Juan Gonzalez. For me, this is incredible here.

"This keeps you in shape. It helps you with your timing with the pitchers. You have to play. After this, I am going to rest a couple of days. Then I'll go to Spring Training and hope to make the team."

Chance with Phillies: Left-handed-hitting outfielder Karim Garcia last played in the big leagues in 2004 with the Orioles. In 2006, he played in Japan.

When Spring Training opens, Garcia hopes to hook up with the Phillies.

The 31-year-old is signed to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big-league camp. He has played this winter for Mexico, and he started in center field on Saturday against the Dominican Republic.

Playing in Japan has made Garcia appreciate life in the big leagues.

"Japan is a different culture," Garcia said. "The training is a lot harder [than MLB]. It's a lot more disciplined, even more so than in the states."

With big league scouts in attendance at Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium, Garcia is hoping to make an impression.

"Being here is like a stage for the 29 other teams," he said. "It also keeps you in shape for Spring Training."

Series shorts: Mexico's Alfredo Amezaga, who played center field and struggled on two fly balls in Friday's loss to Puerto Rico, was starting at second base Saturday. A versatile switch-hitter for the Marlins, Amezaga is a candidate to backup in the infield as well as play center field on occasion. Amezaga made a diving play at second to rob Anderson Hernandez of a single in the third inning Saturday. ... Dominican outfielder Victor Mendez, who twisted his left knee in Friday's 18-inning win over Venezuela, is listed as day-to-day. Mendez was not in the lineup Saturday. ... Dominican right-hander Leo Nunez, who is with the Royals, was clocked throwing 97 mph Friday. That was the fastest recorded pitch Friday.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.