Jose Molina had a simple message for Christian Vazquez when the 24-year-old catcher sought his advice over the offseason.
It was a pearl of wisdom most Boston Red Sox fans probably appreciate.
“In Boston, why did they follow (former catcher/captain) Jason Varitek? Because from Day 1, he earned their respect, so that’s exactly one point that I put to him,” Molina, a 15-year veteran backstop, recently told MassLive.com’s Jen McCaffrey of his instructions to Vazquez. “Be like Varitek, he was the leader, he was the captain of that team. You have to follow that.”
Varitek was beloved in Boston during his 15 seasons in uniform. He earned three All-Star selections and won a Gold Glove. But most importantly, Tek led vocally and by example, which Vazquez is looking to replicate as he prepares for his first full major league season.
“The first thing I told him was it doesn’t matter if you have one year or 20 years in the big leagues, you have to be the leader of your team. You’re in charge,” Molina told McCaffrey. “The sooner you do that, and the sooner you can show your teammates that, they will respect you more and respect the way you call the game.”
Vazquez, who earned his first major league call-up last July, already has drawn rave reviews from his teammates, coaches and opponents, alike, despite having just 55 games of big league experience. His leadership qualities should continue to grow with time, but he already has the makeup of a field general.
Just ask Jose, the brother of fellow major league catchers Yadier Molina and Benjie Molina. Vazquez, who again played winter ball in Puerto Rico this offseason, wanted to pick the 39-year-old’s brain about everything and anything.
“It wasn’t about doing drills or anything like that. It was about talking,” Jose Molina said. “We talked about game situations, what he needs to do to remember things that are going to make him better receiving, blocking.”
Vazquez has the physical and mental tools to become an impactful major league catcher. He also has the type of guidance that could elevate him to new heights sooner rather than later.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images