SAN FRANCISCO -- This isn't Bengie Molina's first return visit to San Francisco since he left the organization in a 2010 midseason trade. But, he said Saturday, it has certainly been the most moving.
Molina recalled being greeted warmly at AT&T Park in 2010 when, as a member of the Rangers, he faced his former teammates in the World Series. The ovation he received Friday, though, was stirring and sustained, with many in the sellout crowd standing to recognize Molina, who hit .276 in parts of four years with the Giants from 2007-10.
"I was deeply touched," said Molina, now the Cardinals' assistant hitting coach. "You don't see that everywhere, and it was very special. When you're out of the game for a while, you don't always know if people remember you. It was a little bit surprising, but they supported me so much when I was here.
"I had hoped that I made an impact on the field and with everyone that I met at the ballpark during my time in San Francisco. It was a wonderful time for me."
Because Molina split the 2010 season between San Francisco and Texas, he received a World Series ring when the Giants defeated the Rangers that fall. His playing career ended there, with Molina stepping away for two seasons before landing a position on the Cardinals' coaching staff this winter.
"He's been a great asset for us so far," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's really worked hard and has done a terrific job communicating to the guys, which I think we knew he would do. He's got a great mind for the game of baseball and I think he's going to be around as long as he wants to be around."
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.