SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bengie Molina is afraid anyone following the San Francisco Giants might think he's been taking it easy this spring and not giving his all behind the plate.
But his strained left quadriceps muscle is still sore and he would much rather be healthy come opening day than have a setback now. There was a tough foul pop-up Friday in front of his team's dugout that he would typically have gone for, but ultimately decided against it and let the ball drop to the dirt.
A few fans let him have it, too.
"It's very embarrassing to be out there and not hustling," Molina said Saturday, standing by his locker getting ready for an exhibition game against Seattle. "I know I'm not fast, but I like to be running out there. I'm thinking long-term. I have to be ready for the season. But it worries me. I don't want people to think I don't hustle. That's the nature of being hurt. It's not my game to back down. I go all out."
On Saturday, Molina grounded out to third in the seventh and moved slowly trying to get to first. The fans booed loudly, prompting Molina to mock the crowd by waving and then tipping his cap while disappearing into the dugout. He takes this stuff personally.
Molina is scheduled to sit out today, then catch Monday against Colorado in Tucson before the team's off day Tuesday.
"He's frustrated because we're all asking him. He wants to be cautious with it," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I think Bengie is going to be fine."
Molina has been limited by the leg injury since early in spring training, but hopes that in a few days he will finally be at full strength and making all the plays again.
While he did drive in three runs in a Cactus League win over Arizona on Friday, Molina is less concerned with his offense than he is calling a good game for the pitchers and being able to move well.
"It's hard for him because he wants to catch everybody this spring and get ready," starter Matt Cain said. "That's just his mentality. We know he's got that ability. We'll never worry about that."
Molina will be the cleanup hitter for the Giants, who have missed the playoffs the last four seasons and are about to begin their first year since 1992 without home run king Barry Bonds.
Molina, in his second season with San Francisco, realizes that his anxiety about what people think of him right now could be in his head. He's just discouraged because he arrived for spring training feeling great physically.
"It's tough when you're hurt," he said. "Now your head has time to think about things you normally don't think about."
His teammates are supportive and know Molina will be ready when it counts. He was one of the Giants' clutch hitters in 2007, regularly coming through in two-out situations. He hit .338 (26 for 77) with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Molina, 33, batted .276, tied his career best with 19 home runs, and also had 19 doubles and a career-high 81 RBIs while playing in his most games ever at 134 -- catching in 129 of those.
The pitchers had a 4.11 ERA in his games.
"He shouldn't be embarrassed," said infielder Rich Aurilia, who wasn't himself for the final five months last year because of a neck injury. "He's our catcher. He's going to play every day. We know what Bengie can do. Everyone who was here last year knows how he plays. We're not concerned. I would be more concerned if it was something other than his legs. He's not a speed-burner to begin with."
A'S (SS) 10, GIANTS (SS) 2, at Phoenix -- Bobby Crosby, Donnie Murphy and Kurt Suzuki drove in two runs apiece during an eight-run first inning in Oakland's win over San Francisco. Shortstop Eugenio Velez had two hits for the Giants and raised his batting average to .340.
A'S (SS) 9, PADRES (SS) 3, at Peoria, Ariz. -- Lenny DiNardo allowed only one run after loading the bases with none out in the third inning, helping Oakland beat San Diego. The left-hander, competing for the final spot in Oakland's rotation, gave up one run and five hits in 3º innings to earn his second win of the spring.
RANGERS 10, ROCKIES 5, at Surprise, Ariz. -- Colorado's Ian Stewart, a former Modesto Nuts infielder, led off the second inning with a home run off Eric Hurley, but the Texas starter only allowed two runs and two hits in four innings.