Martín ‘Machete’ Maldonado more than fills the space left vacant by Yadier Molina

Miami. If it’s track and field, the relay from Ivan Rodriguez—and we’re not talking about a legendary Yaucano runner of that name but rather a Hall of Fame member—to Yadier Molina, to Puerto Rico’s Martín ‘Machete’ Maldonado is in the lead.

The last stick pass on the receiving end for the Puerto Rican team, this pass from current manager Molina to Maldonado was so good that Puerto Rico never lost any advantage in that position, nor did Rodríguez pass the stick to Molina.

Maldonado is in the prime of his professional career, and at this pace, there was no doubt he would do the job behind the plate that Rodríguez and Molina did for Puerto Rico as master catchers in the previous Clasico. Rodríguez was the starting player in 2006 and 2009. Molina, who was on the roster in those first two classics, succeeded him as a regular striker in 2013 and 2017. And if he had chosen to play this year, no one would dare say.. that he shouldn’t. be opening.

But with what Maldonado has done so far, he confirmed here with his handling of the game, defensive and offensive contributions, that a change was appropriate.

Martin is a horse.

Maldonado took Puerto Rico’s three first-round wins, including the “perfect game” four-shooter against Israel. Their pitchers allowed three runs in 26 innings pitched and struck out 33 in that space.

Puerto Rico had the fourth-best collegiate ERA out of 20 teams going into the first round with a 2.83. He allowed the fewest hits (22) and fourth-best in hits (41).

Maldonado makes a nod for Rubio’s team after arriving safely and first at first base with a snap in Wednesday’s game against the Dominican Republic. (Carlos Giusti / Staff)

Perhaps what surprised Maldonado was his offensive production, an area that marked Rodriguez and in which Molina developed into a productive hitter.

Maldonado leads Puerto Rico in batting. 500 average. He is 4-for-8 in the three games played and is second in runs scored with five. His base average is . 636, leading Rubio’s team.

His teammate, Kike Hernández, was humorously surprised by the offensive resources the receiver displayed.

“Martín has done a tremendous job behind the plate and in this tournament he’s one of the best hitters as well, he even hits the ball,” said Hernandez, referring to Maldonado’s snapping hit in Wednesday’s game.

In defense, Maldonado showed his well-known arm. They robbed him once in the first round and knocked out whoever tried to do so, reminiscent, albeit on a smaller scale, of Molina’s play in 2013, when he shot Dominican runner Nelson Cruz into second with wizard Javier Paez. without looking.

teammate, Francisco LindorHe respectfully distanced himself from Molina’s move to Paez, when asked if with Maldonado it was the symbolic passing of the baton between the star receivers. It was Lindor who took Maldonado’s shot.

But he remembers it as a play that energized the crowd and fed the players.

“My cattle were great. But that by Yadi and Javier was very, very big. Boy! Martin felt great outside to look[into the stands]and see everyone celebrating. That sound of Whoa! The Puerto Rican crowd is one of a kind. It fills me with so much pride,” described Lindor. When he talks about the scene you witnessed at LoanDepot Park in Saturday’s game against Nicaragua.

Maldonado also showed his arm in the first round by taking out Nicaraguan player Juan Montes on this play with Lindor out.
Maldonado also showed his arm in the first round by taking out Nicaraguan player Juan Montes on this play with Lindor out. (Carlos Rivera Justi)

Who will take over from Maldonado? Who will run the next stage in 2026. Maldonado is 36 years old.

Here are two in a row, Cristian Vasquez, 32, and MJ Melendez, 24. There is also Victor Caratini, who has been selected to participate in El Clásico and Thomas Nedo, who will also be present if called upon, among others.

The good thing is that there are candidates, as well as the right time for them to arrive at the moment.

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Myrtle Frost

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