MIAMI -- As the gold patch on Yadier Molina's left sleeve reminded, no face has become as familiar at the All-Star Game over the past decade as that of the Cardinals' catcher.He wore on his sleeve a No. 8, which signified that No. 4 is now an All-Star for the
MIAMI -- As the gold patch on Yadier Molina's left sleeve reminded, no face has become as familiar at the All-Star Game over the past decade as that of the Cardinals' catcher.
He wore on his sleeve a No. 8, which signified that No. 4 is now an All-Star for the eighth time in his career. No one on either roster for Tuesday's game can boast more, and the only other players in franchise history who can (with the exception of the still-active Jose Pujols) are already enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
It was a statement of Molina's prominence on Monday, when he and teammate Carlos Martinez participated in their first day of festivities for the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. The batterymates spoke passionately about being able to play this game in Miami, which features a proud Latin community, and what these sorts of honors can do for a legacy. (Watch the 88th Midsummer Classic live on FOX, tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT.)
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For Molina, the string of All-Star appearances -- eight in nine years -- doesn't merely enhance a career resume that also includes two World Series titles and eight Gold Glove awards. It equals it.
"You play the game to be recognized by the players and the fans as one of the best," Molina said. "This is one of my goals. It's why I work hard in the offseason. Every time you have an opportunity to spend time with great players in this game, it's awesome."
Molina, voted onto the roster through the players' ballot, remains, at age 34, a gold standard behind the plate. He's consistently among the most heavily worked catchers in baseball, and despite age and attrition, Molina's production at the plate hasn't dramatically waned.
It's the sort of consistency that Martinez seeks, as he strives to be what Molina has become. Molina said he believes Martinez will find it, and, in turn, find himself sitting in this sort of seat regularly each July.
"Many years. No doubt about it," Molina said of Martinez. "He's got great talent. He's a great pitcher. He's still learning. I have no doubt he's going to be an All-Star for many, many years."
An All-Star for the second time, Martinez showed up in Miami with his hair teal and his grin wide. With permission from his wife to color his hair, Martinez found inspiration in this year's All-Star color scheme.
This represents another milestone in a year full of them for the fun-loving, 25-year-old ace. He signed a contract extension in January, anchored the Dominican Republic's World Baseball Classic rotation in March, and took the ball for the Cardinals on Opening Night in April.
None of that, however, minimized how meaningful it was to have a place among the game's best on Monday.
"This is an individual accolade," said Martinez, also a player-ballot selection. "I feel special that I put in the work to be here among the best players in the game. I didn't know that I was so popular among the players, and I'm grateful for it."
Adding to the excitement was knowing that this All-Star Game will feature something his first didn't -- an actual appearance in the game. Martinez said he's been told by the National League staff that he is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday.
"It's going to be," Martinez said, "the biggest experience of my life."
Tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.