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BenFred: Molina will always defend his teammates— and catchers count as teammates

BenFred: Molina will always defend his teammates— and catchers count as teammates

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APTOPIX Diamondbacks Cardinals Baseball

Yadier Molina is held back by Arizona's Daniel Descalso while yelling at Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo during the April 8 game in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The All-Star break offers baseball players a chance to rest aching bodies, relax stressed minds and ... start Instagram feuds.

You're off the hook, Kris Bryant.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has found a new target for his social media blowtorch, and while the Cardinals probably don't enjoy seeing the face of the organization drop expletives and middle-finger emojis on The Gram, Molina has a point. He's making it in the most Yadier Molina way possible. That's with zero (cares) given.

In the most fired-up Molina social media rant since Molina roasted Bryant for calling St. Louis 'boring,' which was the most talked-about Molina social-media post since Molina called out former manager Mike Matheny, Molina rushed to the defense of fellow catcher and Los Angeles Angel Jonathan Lucroy after Lucroy was speared at the plate by Jake Marisnick of the Houston Astros in a game played Sunday.

In case you missed it, here's the hard-to-watch hit.

And in case you missed it, here's what Molina posted to his 762,000 Instagram followers. Well, the PG version.

"(Expletive)!!!" Molina posted to his official account. "MLB need to take action on this (expletive) play! (Expletive)! Praying for Lucroy! slide slide slide (expletive) !!! (Expletive) u if u think this is Ok .. (expletive) u!!!!"

And it doesn't end there.

The comments section of Molina's post is, of course, filled with people responding. In those comments are a bunch of Astros. Molina is defending catchers. The Astros are defending Marisnick.

"This is number 1 bs," writes Houston pitcher Lance McCullers to Molina. "This play was an accidental collision. It was unfortunate it happened and we all hope Lucroy is okay! Nobody wants anyone hurt and missing time, we are a brotherhood. You have been around long enough to know."

Molina responds.

"Tell that to Lucroy family or to Chirino (Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos). I wanna know his opinion. Ask him!"

Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, Carlos Correa and other Astros make the case for their teammate. Molina fires back to each one. Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez checks in, and agrees with Molina. It's a who's who of baseball in the comments section, with far more competitiveness than you are going to find at the All-Star game. It sort of feels like watching a bench-clearing shoving match, one where every player has a thought bubble above his head.

If this was any other Cardinals player, you would have to think the organization would have asked for a language edit by now. But it's not any other player. It's nine-time All-Star and nine-time Gold-Glove winner Molina. He plays when he wants. He says what he wants. The Cardinals have taken that stance for years. Those who are offended by Molina's bad words will be upset. (For the record, he did apologize for his language in another Instagram post late Monday night.) Most will focus on the curse words and miss the message.

Molina is always going to protect his teammates, and catchers count as his teammates. It's a brotherhood. It's the reason former catcher and now Angels manager Brad Ausmus and Molina give one another a subtle salute before games between the Angels and Cardinals. Just like he rushed to the defense of John Brebbia (and St. Louis) when Kris Bryant made harmful swipes, Molina feels compelled to be the outspoken voice of catchers who are tired of seeing these kind of collisions, tired of feeling the aftermath immediately and years down the line, and tired of rule changes that turn plays like this into an automatic out but stop short of punishing the baserunner beyond the individual play.

College football players who are flagged for targeting miss the second half of that game or the first half of the next one. Baseball players who target catchers are called out and take their next at-bat, even if the catcher, like Lucroy, is being sent to the hospital to get checked out for a reported concussion and potential broken nose.

“It certainly didn’t look like a clean play," Angels manager Ausmus told USA Today. “I don’t know what actually happened. It looked like Marisnick took a step to the left and bowled into him with his arm up. The call was right. Major League Baseball should probably take a look at it and consider some type of suspension, quite frankly.”

Ausmus, like Molina, is going to defend catchers. It's their code. And it's worth pointing out that Molina's quote — delivered with no shortage of fireworks — got more play than the quote of Lucroy's own manager.

Molina, 36 now and a veteran of 16 MLB seasons and counting, knows his voice carries. He's proud to carry the conversation for protecting catchers. He's not going to change his delivery now.

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