Health scare provides wake-up call for former Angels catcher Bengie Molina

Bengie Molina catches for Texas on July 23, 2010.

Bengie Molina catches for Texas on July 23, 2010.

(Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

Bengie Molina’s father was 58 when he died of a heart attack in 2008. The former Angels catcher, who helped the team win its only World Series title in 2002, had two uncles and a grandfather who also died of heart attacks at age 58.

Molina seemed headed for a similar fate in 2011, a year after his distinguished 13-year career came to an end. Always stout as a player, a suddenly sedentary Molina ballooned to 290 pounds. He felt fatigued and began experiencing shortness of breath.

A trip to a cardiologist, who diagnosed Molina with an aortic valve problem, high cholesterol and prediabetes, provided a wake-up call for Molina, now 42. It may have saved his life and, Molina hopes, extended it.

Molina, who is in Angels spring-training camp as a guest instructor, altered his diet and began exercising regularly, riding a bike about 25 miles a day. He lost 35 pounds and is down to 255 pounds. He hopes to lose 25 more pounds this year and settle at around 230.

“Everything has changed, and I’m feeling a lot better,” said Molina, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner who had a career .274 average, 144 home runs and 711 runs batted in. “I still have a long way to go, but I’m on my way, man. I’m very motivated. I believe in God very deeply, and he’s taking these steps with me.”


The first big step, one that opened his eyes to the reality of his situation, was the one that led to the doctor’s office in 2011.

“I had all kinds of problems, all kinds of stuff was coming up — I was very heavy, and my heart was working too hard,” Molina said. “ I said, ‘You know what? I need to do something. I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to stay here.’

“Plus, I have that family history of my father and grandfather and uncles dying of heart attacks at 58. I want to pass that.”

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna