SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -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 popup 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.''
Molina has been limited by the leg injury since early in spring training, but hopes that in a few days he will finally be 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.
The 33-year-old Molina 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.''
After Friday's game, Molina did some running on a back field at Scottsdale Stadium. He is still experiencing some soreness that he expects will subside soon.
``It's pretty close,'' he said. ``I don't want to injure it again. You don't want to mess around with that. It's kind of crazy. My only worry and concern is not to feel it. After you feel fine, you can get it out of your mind.''

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