ST. LOUIS -- Having never had the opportunity to play professionally with his older brother Bengie, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina spoke Monday about his anticipation over the prospect of donning the same uniform this season. Along with that came an endorsement as well.
"It's going to be awesome. I can't wait," said Yadier Molina, the youngest of the three Molina brothers to play professional baseball. "Bengie is a great guy to have on your side. It's going to be awesome. He knows about hitting, too. He's going to be a good help for our team."
After signing his contract Friday, Bengie Molina, who last appeared in the Majors in 2010, officially became a member of an organization that once nearly added him to its roster.
Molina, a lifetime .274 hitter, takes the coaching position most recently held by John Mabry, who moved into the role of hitting coach following Mark McGwire's departure. The Cardinals identified Molina as an ideal fit because of his catching background. He spent his career breaking down hitters for his pitching staff. Now, he'll be an asset in breaking down opposing pitchers for his hitters.
Asked to comment about the impact of his new assistant coach, Mabry summed it up succinctly: "You can never have too many Molinas on your team."
Beltran, Molina look forward to playing in Classic
ST. LOUIS -- Though certainly proud to represent Puerto Rico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, both Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran reiterated Monday that they intend to use the three-week, 16-team tournament as preparation for the 2013 regular season.
"Once you are in the World [Baseball] Classic, you have to stick with your approach," said Beltran, who will be participating in his third Classic. "You have to understand that you're not there for vacation. You're there to prepare yourself for the Classic, but more importantly, for the season. You can't just go out there and sit back and relax.
"I approach it like a process of Spring Training," he added. "It's good to face live pitching and all that, and it makes you get ready a little bit faster. But you have to go to the Classic and continue to work on the things that you would normally work on during Spring Training -- take a lot of swings and try to have a plan on your own because nobody there is watching you. That's when the professional part of this game comes out. You have to make sure that you're in good shape."
With four other outfielders also on Puerto Rico's provisional roster, Beltran may have the opportunity to fill in as the club's designated hitter for at least some of tournament play.
The team, which is in a first-round pool with Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Spain, will play its first three games in Puerto Rico. Beltran joked that ticket requests from family members still living there could run his personal bill to "25 grand."
He added: "But it's OK. They really enjoy it. I'll do that for my family. I don't know if I'll ever be part of another Classic, so I'll enjoy this one."
Molina, who served as the backup to Ivan Rodriguez in the '09 Classic, will be the club's starter this time. He said he began his offseason work earlier than usual to prepare for the event. The Classic was also one of the driving forces behind Molina's decision to play 14 games in winter ball last month.
"You have to be ready in December, January because it gets to you fast," said Molina, who also has the task of preparing to catch an unfamiliar group of pitchers.
"Any time you have a chance to play for your country, it's a great honor," Molina said. "It's going to be good for me and for my family. Just to be there and playing with other teams like the Dominican, Venezuela and the USA, it's going to be a great honor."
Matheny addresses report of financial issues
ST. LOUIS -- A day after Mike Matheny's current financial situation -- one that has him facing potential bankruptcy due to a series of investments gone wrong -- was delineated, in detail, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals manager stressed that terming it as "financial woe" would be a mischaracterization.
Matheny, according to the Post-Dispatch, is expected to owe more than $4 million to pay off debt that lingers from failed real-estate investments. The newspaper outlined Matheny's 2007 purchase of property that he and a business partner had hoped to develop. Not long after the purchase, the economy took a downturn. According to the Post-Dispatch, Matheny, citing the need to look out for his family's interest, stopped making loan payments in 2010.
Ten days ago, a court ruling against Matheny left him facing the reality that he will likely lose his entire net worth, the Post-Dispatch reported. Matheny, who is making less than $1 million a year as the Cardinals manager, said Monday that he and his family have come to peace with the situation and are ready to make amends and move past it.
"There actually were no woes and that was unfortunate because it was translated that way, but it was a pretty cool story altogether of family and strength and faith and just peace and joy that you can't put a description on except as a gift," Matheny said, seemingly taking exception to seeing the word "woes" in the headline of the newspaper article.
"It was pretty impressive because you just never know any situation how you're going to react until you get into it, but I was able to show up every day with an incredible ability to just focus and do my job, and stuff on the outside I was able to compartmentalize and deal with that as I had to.
"But the support group of family and friends who have kind of walked with us for the last few years ... this stuff really has kind of been old news, but it's still been there and it is a story that doesn't have anything to do with woes. It's about some pretty cool things that have happened, but I'm looking forward to moving on."
According to the Post-Dispatch, a March 13 court date has been set to hear any objections to the amount of money Matheny will be required to pay back.
Aside from stating that he'd like to get his contract situation taken care of without an arbitration hearing, third baseman David Freese had little to comment on regarding current negotiations. On Friday, Freese's agent exchanged arbitration figures with the Cardinals. Freese asked for $3.75 million, while the Cardinals filed at $2.4 million.
If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, a hearing will be scheduled for sometime during the first three weeks of February. Freese is arbitration eligible for the first time.
"Publicly, I'm not going to get involved with where we're at," Freese said. "It'll get resolved. It kind of has to. When? I don't know. But it has to."
Matt Carpenter said he will report to Jupiter, Fla., in early February to get a head start on the second-base work that he will be doing with infield coach Jose Oquendo. Carpenter has been taking ground balls at the position nearly daily this offseason with the expectation that he will get the chance to compete for a starting job at second this spring.
"Really, I'm just working at it every day with the mindset of trying to get comfortable over there so that when I come into Spring Training, I can prove to our coaching staff that I can handle it," Carpenter said. "Whatever role ends up happening, they'll decide that."
Asked to offer one of his most memorable encounters with the late Stan Musial, Mabry shared this:
"One great story for me was that Stan was throwing out a [ceremonial] first pitch and I was actually catching the first pitch. He throws the ball, I catch it, and we go out to get a photo [taken]. He says, 'John, you're my grandson's favorite player.' I said, 'Well, Mr. Musial, has he looked at the back of your baseball card? Because I will never touch anything that is on the back of that baseball card.' He said, 'He doesn't pay attention to his grandpa.'
Mabry was, jokingly, asked if he then signed the ball for Musial.
"I wouldn't dare sign a ball for him," Mabry answered. "He signed it for me and I still have it. Then that picture he signed: 'To a great Cardinal.' To me, that means the world for the best Cardinal to say I'm a great Cardinal. He is what the Cardinals should be."
A resident of San Francisco, Daniel Descalso said that he has been fueled this offseason by the sting of watching his hometown celebrate a World Series championship in October. Descalso relayed one story in which, while picking up a to-go order, he had to walk the streets of the city as fans celebrated a Giants World Series win. San Francisco, after winning three straight National League Championship Series elimination games over the Cardinals, swept the Tigers in the Fall Classic.
"It was extra painful to me going back to San Francisco," Descalso said, "I basically went into my hole. I didn't want to see anybody. I was stuck in the middle of Giants mania and the parade. I could have done without that."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.