You ever been ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca?’ Well, Puerto Rico certainly is, and the song was played twice–at deafening volumes–for Gigantes celebrations on Saturday night.
It’s become the semi-retro theme song for a team to be reckoned with.
PR catcher Yadier Molina is a big reason for that kind of feeling permeating through the clubhouse. As righthander Jonathan Albaladejo says, “Without Molina, we’re a ship going in circles.”
And that’s true of the reigning World Series champion catcher, though Dominican catcher Alberto Castillo has anchored his staff without nearly as much attention.
Maybe that’s because of the fact that Castillo’s not quite viewed as being a Molina-type catcher–Molina regularly blocks balls during warmup tosses to further sharpen his skills–but Castillo’s flying so under the radar in the Dominican’s undefeated record that it’s kind of ridiculous.
Castillo caught all 18 innings of the DR’s win over Venezuela on Friday, then turned back around to catch another nine frames in the 9-0 win over Mexico.
“It should be interesting to see the two clubs matched up together,” a scout from a National League club said. “Molina is Molina–a hometown hero with hardware (from the Cardinals’ 2006 World Series title.)
“And for me, Molina is the best defensive catcher in the big leagues. But we’re talking game-calling ability, blocking balls in the dirt and the arm strength and Castillo is athletic with good feet and overall agility.
“He’s not (Miguel) Tejada. He’s not an offensive factor as much, but don’t discount what he’s done: He’s led this team, their energy is phenomenal, and that all starts with its backbone behind the plate.”