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MLB stars prepare in Hawaii for Japan Series

Special to MLB.com

HONOLULU -- While Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is all business in his preparation, the longtime backstop noted that he has a special off-the-field mission during his brief stay in Hawaii: checking out the beaches.

Molina is part of a group of Major Leaguers working out in Hawaii during a stopover trip that began Saturday afternoon at Les Murakami Stadium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus in Honolulu. He is joined by fellow 2018 All-Stars J.T. Realmuto (Marlins catcher), Mitch Haniger (Mariners outfielder) and Eugenio Suarez (Reds infielder), as well as star rookie outfielders Juan Soto (Nationals) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves).

HONOLULU -- While Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is all business in his preparation, the longtime backstop noted that he has a special off-the-field mission during his brief stay in Hawaii: checking out the beaches.

Molina is part of a group of Major Leaguers working out in Hawaii during a stopover trip that began Saturday afternoon at Les Murakami Stadium on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus in Honolulu. He is joined by fellow 2018 All-Stars J.T. Realmuto (Marlins catcher), Mitch Haniger (Mariners outfielder) and Eugenio Suarez (Reds infielder), as well as star rookie outfielders Juan Soto (Nationals) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves).

Tweet from @MLB: RT if you wish you were having a catch in the ������ like these guys. pic.twitter.com/s6BSiRexCD

Players, coaches and support staff are spending the weekend on Oahu before heading to Japan for the 2018 Japan All-Star Series, which pits MLB players against counterparts from Nippon Professional Baseball in seven games from Nov. 8-15. On Saturday, players engaged in light warmup drills and took batting practice in front of an energetic crowd that included an array of youth baseball players and their families.

• Play Ball holds unforgettable 1st event in Hawaii

Molina, a native of Puerto Rico, enjoys spending his off time in the water, and Cardinals teammate Kolten Wong -- who hails from Hawaii and went to school at the UH at Manoa -- filled him in prior to the trip about which places to visit and how to best enjoy the 50th state.

Video: Yadier Molina discusses working out in Hawaii

"[Wong] told me where to go, and I'm happy to be here for him," Molina said. "I love the water, so he told me [about some beach] spots to go."

Tweet from @MLB: .@Yadimolina04 making fans all over the globe. pic.twitter.com/7WKTT5hmn5

Molina, who has played his entire 15-year career with the Cardinals, was asked if he still planned on retiring after the 2020 season.

"Right now, yes, but in two years, things can happen," Molina said. "This is my first time here, and it's great. It's like Puerto Rico with the weather, and it's a great place to be, so I'm glad I'm here."

The MLB squad is led by Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who is excited to work with a relatively young cast of rising and established talent in a unique setting.

"It's exciting to be here. I've been here a number of times for vacation, so it's probably one of my favorite places in the world to go," Mattingly said.

Tweet from @PlayBall: BP thrown by Juan Soto? So awesome. #PlayBall pic.twitter.com/eV0cAsQQ2k

Mattingly hopes to impart his wisdom upon the next wave of superstars during the Hawaii Workout and All-Star Series, while also doing his best to keep the players safe.

"We want guys to walk out of here healthy, have a great experience and, when we get to Japan, play at full speed and represent Major League Baseball well," Mattingly said. "It's a great chance to relax a little bit and get ready for the trip."

Video: Kirby Yates discusses Hawaii workouts, Japan Series

The All-Star Series extends a longtime tradition that dates back to 1908, and will mark the 37th time that Major Leaguers have toured Japan for exhibition games. The series will be played in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagoya, and MLB Network will provide extensive coverage, including live game telecasts from Nov. 9-15.

Kyle Galdeira is a contributor to MLB.com.