Molina angry at Angels; Hillenbrand to stay with Jays

TORONTO -- Bengie Molina is angry at the Los Angeles Angels.

"The way they let me go without a notice, without calling me, that said a lot," the Gold Glove catcher said Thursday, three days after agreeing to a $5 million, one-year contract with Toronto. "That's what really hurts me."

Toronto, finishing a busy offseason, also agreed Thursday to a $5.8 million, one-year contract with infielder Shea Hillenbrand and a $650,000, one-year deal with right-hander Pete Walker, who had been scheduled for salary arbitration hearings next week.

Molina was introduced as the Blue Jays' new catcher. His bitterness toward the Angels was clear.

"I think I built a good relationship with them," he said. "They never let me know. They just threw me like a piece of trash."

Molina signed with the Angels when he was 17.

"I don't think I did one thing to disrespect them at all for all those years," Molina said. "If anything I went out of my way for them. I even helped them get Bartolo Colon onto that club. I gave him a call. I called a couple of guys for them. And now when I
needed a call, they never called me."

The 31-year-old Molina hit a career-best .295 last season with 15 homers and 69 RBI. He won Gold Gloves in 2002 and 2003.

"Bengie was an integral part of the success of this organization for the last several years and everyone involved in this organization wishes him nothing but the very best," Angels spokesman Tim Mead said.

Molina was seeking a long-term contract and Angels general manager Bill Stoneman wanted to give younger players an opportunity, according to Mead.

"We make business decisions and decisions based on personnel," Mead said. "Everyone here thinks very fondly of Bengie and continues to do so."

Jose Molina remains with the Angels and could replace his brother as the team's starting catcher.

The New York Mets spoke with Bengie Molina in November and offered an $18 million, three-year contract. New York then had the chance to acquire Paul Lo Duca from the Florida Marlins and withdrew the offer to Molina.

"I took a lot less money to come over here for a reason, and that's to win," Molina said.

Toronto finished third in the AL East last season at 80-82. During the offseason, the Blue Jays signed free-agent pitchers A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan, and acquired third baseman Troy Glaus and
first baseman Lyle Overbay in trades.

Hillenbrand, who hit .291 with 18 homers and 82 RBI in his first season with Toronto, had asked for $6.7 million in arbitration and was offered $5 million. His deal allows him to make $50,000 in performance bonuses: $25,000 each for 610 and 635 plate appearances.

Walker's deal allows him to make $100,000 in performance bonuses as a reliever or $75,000 as a starter. He was 6-6 with a 3.54 ERA and two saves last year.