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Busy Yadi returns to PR to continue relief effort

Molina dedicating time, money to native island in wake of Hurricane Maria among numerous offseason initiatives
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Having already spent two weeks going door-to-door to deliver food and water to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico last October, Yadier Molina is headed back to his homeland on Friday to continue assisting with relief efforts.

Molina is providing assistance through his personal foundation and has raised more than $180,000 for Puerto Rican aid through a Go Fund Me page that was set up by his wife in September. Donations, Molina said, are still welcome and needed for an island that will be recovering for many more months.

ST. LOUIS -- Having already spent two weeks going door-to-door to deliver food and water to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico last October, Yadier Molina is headed back to his homeland on Friday to continue assisting with relief efforts.

Molina is providing assistance through his personal foundation and has raised more than $180,000 for Puerto Rican aid through a Go Fund Me page that was set up by his wife in September. Donations, Molina said, are still welcome and needed for an island that will be recovering for many more months.

"The power is still out in some areas, but we're doing a lot better," Molina said. "We're slowly getting back."

This trip, however, is just another in a series of initiatives through which Molina has given back to various communities this offseason.

His work started in Puerto Rico when he arrived two days after the conclusion of the Cardinals' season. He supplemented that aid with a December Home Run Derby and Celebrity Softball Game that raised more than $200,000 for hurricane victims. Over 20,000 fans came to the event, which featured several current and former Major League players.

But his efforts have spanned other areas, too. After insisting to teammate Jose Martinez that he would come visit him in Venezuela, Molina took a trip to the politically unstable country so that he could work with aspiring Major Leaguers. Over three days, he provided instruction and advice to young players who are hoping to one day catch the eye of a big league scout.

"A lot of Venezuelans, they don't want to go to Venezuela right now," Martinez said. "And for him to come, it was pretty special because it shows you that you cannot forget where you come from. It [provided] life for the people."

"I just tried to go there and help any way I could," added Molina. "I had fun with the kids and tried to teach them. It was a good experience for me. I'm glad that I did go. Those kids love baseball. They're passionate about it."

Video: Yadi delivers water and supplies to Puerto Rico

Molina also found time this offseason to try his hand at managing, as he guided the Puerto Rican U-23 National Team to a 6-3 record and third-place finish in the Pan American U-23 Baseball Championships. In doing so, the team qualified for the U-23 Baseball World Cup, which will be held in October.

Molina enlisted his brother, Jose, and long-time Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo to serve on his coaching staff. Cardinals prospects Delvin Perez and Yariel Gonzalez played on the squad.

"It was fun," Molina said of that experience. "It was hard, too, to please 22 guys. But at the same time, I learned a lot. You have to learn to do different stuff than when you were a player."

Video: Molina explains Cardinals' tradition to young players

Molina added that it was "too early to decide" whether he would like to pursue a managerial career after he's done playing. The veteran catcher plans to retire after the 2020 season. As the longest-tenured player in the organization, Molina was also recently enlisted to speak to a group of Cardinals Minor League players at the club's January instructional league camp. There, he spoke about his experience as a Cardinal, what it means to play for such a storied organization and provided tips on how to make the most of one's abilities.

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.

St. Louis Cardinals, Yadier Molina