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Molina battling through pain

Molina battling through pain

ANAHEIM -- Bengie Molina is a catcher, so he knows that bumps, bruises and general soreness are all part of the job.

But even he's got to be wondering why he's getting picked on so much by the baseball gods in these playoffs.

A week before he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Friday night's 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, Molina was hit in the elbow by a 95 mph fastball from Yankees reliever Tom Gordon in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.

X-rays were negative and Molina returned to action in the next game, but his batting average has taken a dive since the plunking and the Angels' offense has sagged while falling to a 2-1 deficit in the ALCS.

On Friday night, Molina flied out to center field his first time up against White Sox right-hander Jon Garland, who gave up four hits while pitching a complete game. He grounded out to shortstop his second time up, and in the seventh inning, in his third and final at-bat of the game, Molina struck out.

After the strikeout, Molina winced, seemingly favoring the elbow.

He wasn't at his locker an hour after the game, but his brother, backup catcher Jose Molina, said he could sense there's something slightly different about Bengie.

"He's got to be in pain," Jose said. "That's not him, the way he took those swings there. The last couple of days I've noticed something has to be bothering him, but I know how tough he is, too.

"He'll tell you nothing's wrong, though. That's just the way he is. He doesn't make any excuses. He'll battle through it."

The questions about Bengie's hitting probably wouldn't be surfacing if he hadn't dominated Yankees pitching in the ALDS.

He went 8-for-18 (.444) in that series with three home runs, five RBIs and five runs scored. After Friday night, he was 1-for-10 (.100) vs. the White Sox.

Still, there didn't seem to be much concern from Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

"He's fine," Scioscia said. "His elbow's a little sore, but you have to realize that some of the other guys on our team are 1-for-10, too. Bengie's not the only one who isn't producing offensively for us."

Scioscia made a good point there. The Angels have scored seven runs in three games and are batting .174 (16-for-92) overall.

And for Molina, who took another pitch off the shin in Wednesday night's 2-1 loss in Game 2 in Chicago, suffering little nicks is nothing new.

"He's been beat up all year," reliever Brendan Donnelly said. "There's no guy in baseball who gets as beat up as Bengie does, probably. But he's also one of the toughest.

"If he can't play, he'll be the first one to let Scioscia know. It's going to take him losing a leg to not be able to play in these games. Bengie's way too tough to let something like this keep him out of there."

And as for the Angels' beat-up offense, well, that might be more of an overall concern.

Vladimir Guerrero is 1-for-12 in the ALCS and has one RBI -- on a fielder's choice grounder against the Yankees -- in the entire postseason. Garret Anderson is 1-for-11 in the ALCS. Chone Figgins is 1-for-10.

"A lot of people aren't getting hits against their pitchers," Donnelly said.

"You can't single out Bengie."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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