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 NEW YORK (AP) -Wil Nieves' big hits came too late to keep him with the New York Yankees.
The Yankees designated the popular, good-fielding backup catcher for assignment Sunday once Jose Molina arrived from Minnesota, where he had been with the Los Angeles Angels before the Yankees obtained him Saturday night.
``I was surprised that this happened,'' Nieves said. ``But I'm positive. I know something good is going to come from this.''
Molina, a defensive specialist acquired because he hits better than Nieves, was batting .228 with a .242 on-base percentage for the AL West-leading Angels. Manager Joe Torre also cited his contributions to success as part of two division-winning Angels teams as well as the 2002 World Series champions.
``He hits lefties well,'' Torre said. ``He always hits that base hit to right that drives you nuts.''
Nieves doubled twice and drove in two runs in the Yankees' 17-5 win over Tampa Bay on Saturday night in the second game of a doubleheader. His average is still .164, lowest on the team. He's hit four doubles this month, his first extra-base hits since 2002.
Nieves, who turns 30 in September, said he didn't know if he would go to the minors or attempt to catch on with another big league team.
Torre said he planned to have Molina warm up pitchers in the bullpen to become familiar with their repertoires, then ``we'll find a place to plug him in this week in Kansas City,'' he said.
Molina wasn't the only newcomer the Yankees had available. Left-hander Sean Henn was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Saturday's doubleheader depleted the Yankees' bullpen. Matt DeSalvo was optioned to Scranton.
Henn was 2-0 4.66 in 17 relief appearances for the Yankees, with 13 walks and 13 strikeouts before he was sent down June 22.
Luis Vizcaino won both games Saturday, giving him four of the Yankees' past six wins. Torre said Vizcaino and right-hander Scott Proctor were unavailable Sunday.
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