Originally created 10/07/04

Colon chooses younger Molina



ANAHEIM, Calif. - Bartolo Colon turned around his first season with the Anaheim Angels when Jose Molina was behind the plate.

So when it came to choosing between Jose and Benige Molina to be his catcher in Game 2 of the division Series against the Boston Red Sox, it was a no-brainer: Jose got the nod.

"Bartolo really doesn't have a preference. It's just a comfort level that's extraordinary, with what Jose has done with Bartolo," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those guys have done very well down the stretch in a lot of key games and we are going to stay with it."

The younger Molina has been catching Colon through most of the second half and has been credited with helping turn the right-hander's season around. Colon is 12-4 since July 3, and Jose Molina has started in 10 of those wins.

Colon finished 18-12 with a 5.01 ERA in 34 starts, after going 5-8 with a 6.57 ERA in his first 17 outings. Scioscia had Bengie Molina behind the plate for two of Colon's starts in September because he wanted his bat in the lineup as much as possible in the postseason - and wanted Colon to get re-accustomed to him. But those plans changed when the Angels lost Game 1.

"Bartolo's been night and day from his first 15 starts, when he was having trouble with his mechanics, to where he is now," Scioscia said. "If you look at him statistically, over his last 20 or so starts, I think he ranks right up there with anybody in baseball."

DANCE FEVER: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire loves to see New York's Ruben Sierra coming to bat at Yankee Stadium - even though he's a dangerous hitter.

"I like his song when he comes to the plate; I want to tell you that, too," Gardenhire said. "We were trying to figure out who sings that: 'I like the way she moves. ...' We were trying to figure that out, I'm telling my bench coach, 'Will you please shut up, I'm trying to concentrate here.' That's a true story. Really tense out there."

Celebrating his 39th birthday, Sierra was the designated hitter for the second consecutive game Wednesday night, leaving Kenny Lofton on the bench again - even with right-hander Brad Radke pitching for Minnesota.

"It's just a call," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I can't say anything negative about Kenny because he's not playing. I think Ruben is having some good at-bats now, he's a switch-hitter, and I just feel comfortable playing him."

Lofton had a .346 on-base percentage and scored 51 runs this season. He complained earlier in the year about his limited playing time.

"I talked to Kenny about this today, because he was, I think, a little surprised that he wasn't playing," Torre said. "I just told him, 'Hopefully, it's going to be a long postseason and just be ready to play.' But it's just a decision on how I feel, as opposed to what you didn't do."

LIMA TIME: Jose Lima, who'll start Game 3 of the Dodgers' first-round series against the Cardinals, said there's no easy way to pitch to St. Louis' powerful lineup.

"Don't try to trick them, don't try to be foolish, just go up there and try to challenge them," Lima said. "You cannot go out there and try to work the count on those guys because that's what they want, they look for one pitch to hurt you."

Lima said there are no weak spots throughout that lineup, even .247-hitting catcher Mike Matheny.

Lima relishes the opportunity to face St. Louis after fighting his way back to the major leagues last season. He had to prove himself with the independent Newark Bears before getting signed by the Royals, and then going 13-5 for the Dodgers.

"You see the smile on my face every day?" Lima said. "Come on. Being on the playoff roster and pitching on Saturday? Come on. This is unbelievable. This is probably the most enjoyable year of my career."