SAN FRANCISCO -- Though Monday night's pairing of catcher Pablo Sandoval with left-hander Barry Zito might have seemed predictable, manager Bruce Bochy said that Bengie Molina needed a rest under any circumstance.
Sandoval served as Zito's batterymate in some of the left-hander's better performances last year. They maintained that success last Wednesday as Sandoval, the regular third baseman, received his first start behind the plate and ushered Zito to seven scoreless innings against San Diego.
Instead of citing the Sandoval-Zito partnership to justify the lineup change for the series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bochy pointed out that Molina caught all 12 innings in Sunday's 5-4 loss at Arizona in a day game following a night game.
"It really wouldn't have mattered who was pitching today," Bochy said, explaining Molina's break.
Bochy acknowledged that the efficient collaborations between Sandoval and Zito enable him to feel comfortable making moves such as Monday's, though Molina entered the game leading San Francisco in hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs and total bases. Sandoval has surged lately at the plate, amassing a career-high four hits Sunday.
Once again, though Bochy didn't fully commit to naming Sandoval as Zito's personal catcher, the manager did say, "It makes it easier for the pitcher or the catcher if Bengie gets the same off-day each week." Bochy added that besides Zito, Sandoval would be most likely to catch Matt Cain or Jonathan Sanchez, while Molina has been charged with the responsibility of working with ace Tim Lincecum and fellow veteran Randy Johnson.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.