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Criollos de Caguas Name Yadier Molina Manager for 2023-24 Winter League Season

 Leif Skodnick  |    Apr 20th, 2023 6:28pm EDT

Yadier Molina of Criollos de Caguas of Puerto Rico prepares for his turn at bat in the first inning during the game between Colombia and Puerto Rico as part of Serie del Caribe 2021 at Teodoro Mariscal Stadium on February 3, 2021 in Mazatlan, Mexico. Molina was named manager of the Criollos for the 2023-24 Winter League season. (Photo by Norte Luis Gutierrez /Photo/Getty Images)

By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network

Yadier Molina got his feet wet as a manager, leading Puerto Rico at the 2023 World Baseball Classic after managing Navegantes de Magallanes in Venezuela last winter.

He’ll now get to dive in to the role as manager of the Criollos de Caguas of Puerto Rico’s Liga Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente for the 2023-24 winter season, Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia reported. Molina played for Criollos in the 2021 Caribbean Series in Mazatlan, Mexico.

“Well, I am very happy for the opportunity. It’s something I’ve always wanted, to be in Puerto Rico, and help young people; put a little bit of me, in a matter of baseball. And really, I am very happy with the opportunity that Raúl Rodríguez is giving me,” said Molina, referring to Criollos owner Raúl Rodríguez, at the press conference introducing him as manager. His remarks were translated from Spanish.

Molina takes over for Edgar Perez, who managed the club last year but asked to be assigned to another role. Perez has a full-time role with the Cubs working with their Latin American minor leaguers, which caused him to miss several games last season. He will remain with the Criollos as bench coach.

Last year under Perez, the Criollos went 31-19 in the 50-game regular season, good for first place in the LBPRC, before falling four games to two to the Indios de Mayaguez in the semifinal series.

Caguas has won 20 LBPRC titles, most recently in 2021 and 2022, and five Caribbean Series titles, most recently in 2017 and 2018.

“He is a figure that is going to bring us the championship because we know that this year the goal is to go to the Caribbean Series in Miami. We are very happy that he is with us,” said Criollos owner Raul Rodríguez at the press conference.

Molina retired after a 19-year Major League Baseball career following the 2022 season, which saw him make 10 All-Star Game appearances and win 10 Gold Gloves as a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. At the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Molina led Puerto Rico to the quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by Pool C winner Mexico 5-4 at LoanDepot Park in Miami.